A master of formally inventive poetry and what today would be called micro-fiction, Kharms built off the legacy of Russian Futurist writers to create a uniquely deadpan style written out of and in spite of the absurdities of life in Stalinist Russia. Featuring the acclaimed novella The Old Woman and darkly humorous short prose sequence Events (Sluchai), Today I Wrote Nothing also includes dozens of short prose pieces, plays, and poems long admired in Russia, but never before available in English. A major contribution for American readers and students of Russian literature and an exciting discovery for fans of contemporary writers as eclectic as George Saunders, John Ashbery, and Martin McDonagh, Today I Wrote Nothing is an invaluable collection for readers of innovative writing everywhere.
Praise for Today I Wrote Nothing
"Kharms's playful and poetic work...[draws] critical comparisons to Beckett, Camus, and Ionesco." -The New Yorker
"Echoes of Beckett, Ionesco and Kafka...Yankelevich, who provides the fine translations, makes much of the dramatic possibilities inherent in the work." -Publishers Weekly
"Kharms is a constant, invigorating surprise-a slap in the face, or a knock on the head." -Christopher Sorrentino, author of Trance
"Kharms's Nothing has the power that binds atoms." -Amy Fusselman, author of 8
"Yankelevich has done an heroic job...bringing this supreme poet of everyday life into English." -Charles Bernstein, author of Girly Man
"Kharms's shock-stories and plays show the contents of modernism under extreme pressure." -Keith Gessen, Editor of N+1
“When Daniil Kharms died of hunger in a Soviet asylum in 1942, he was still a young man, an ascending writer who enjoyed a modest popularity in his native Russia as the author of children’s stories. It wasn’t until the 1970s that his work for adults – night-town fairy tales warped in a funhouse mirror – appeared in his home country. Finally, we have an English version. Kharms was a major writer who died too early, but the little he left us is haunting, deeply human, terrifying, and often hilarious.” - The Mark, Decade's Best "Ten Best Books of the Aughts" list
"[Kharms's] enigmatic blend of laughter and violence will shock, delight and baffle." - The Guardian (UK)
"Kharms's work is exhilarating ... We're reminded that narrative is not life, but a trick a writer does with language to make beauty" - George Saunders, The New York Times Book review
"A dazzling book that gives me new hope for an avant garde writing that speaks to a larger audience." - TLS
Matvei Yankelevich edited and translated TODAY I WROTE NOTHING: THE SELECTED WRITINGS OF DANIIL KHARMS (Overlook, 2007). He is a co-translator of OBERIU: AN ANTHOLOGY OF RUSSIAN ABSURDISM (2006). His translation of the Vladimir Mayakovsky's poem "Cloud in Pants" appears in NIGHT WRAPS THE SKY: WRITINGS BY AND ABOUT MAYAKOVSKY (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2008). He is the author of a long poem, THE PRESENT WORK (Palm Press, 2006) and his writing has appeared in Fence, Open City, and many other literary journals. He teaches Russian Literature at Hunter College in New York City and edits the Eastern European Poets Series at Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn.