Quaternity. Four Novellas from the Carpathians

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Quaternity. Four Novellas from the Carpathians

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About the book


Four thematically linked novellas that focus on obsessive relationships, stolen identities, and illusions of grandeur in the post-1989 Carpathian-Balkan region: ● An American expat in Europe appropriates the identity of a Romanian orphan in her desperate search for love. ● A dictator's daughter learns, while on a study trip to France, that her parents have been overthrown and are about to be executed. ● A minor character from a novel confronts her own insignificance. A wife announces to her husband of forty years that she's just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The author

About the author

Maria Rybakova has been a writer since she was twenty-four. She won several prizes for her Russian novels, including “Globus”, “Eureka”, “Anthologia”, “The Students’ Booker”, “Russian Prize”, and was nominated for the international Jan Michalski literary award. Maria Rybakova’s novels have been translated into German, Spanish, and French.

“Anna Grom and Her Phantom” (1999) is an epistolary love story, while “A Sharp Knife for a Tender Heart” (2009) is a tale of a shape-shifting river spirit and its son, both causing unintended destruction in the world surrounding them. The novels “A Draught of a Human Being” (2014) and “If There is Paradise” (2020) deal with the Soviet past and the questions of guilt and responsibility. Her verse novel “Gnedich”, dedicated to the first Russian translator of the “Iliad”, appeared in an English translation in 2015. She teaches literature at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan.


"Having travelled around the globe for professional reasons writer and academic Maria Rybakova spent also some time in Romania. Now teaching literature at Nazarbayev University in Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan) she has a Ph.D. in Classical Literature from Yale University, studied also in Berlin and published several internationally acclaimed novels, which were translated in several languages (including German and English). Her novel-in-verse Gnedich is about the 19th-century Russian translator of Homer's The Iliad.

As sort of an outcome of her stay at the New Europe College (NEC) in Bucharest but also of her studies at Al.I.Cuza University in Iași she puts her impressions from the Carpathians in 4 "novellas" that offer in meticulously crafted short stories a surprising literary perspective on the Romanian world of today. In fact they are one of the most unexpected new fresh literary onsights to Romania that can be found at the moment. The stories give quite realistic settings in Romanian towns and Paris and evolve plots that mix reality with literary images and thoughts. So we read about Eliade or "Brynkoosh" (wonderful pronunciation and spelling!) or about somebody who has won after all the famous prize from Stockholm. This latter example hints us to specific Romanian idiosyncrasies that Rybakova observes and evokes in an artistic manner: the longing for at least one Nobel prize for one of the many good writers or researchers or the obsession with Mircea Eliade (the author herself researched Eliade during her stay at the New Europe College.) Rybakova even endeavours to create convincingly a story about a daughter of the Ceaușescus in Paris and her individual sight on events that happened in 1989.

Each of the four "novellas" has its own aesthetic and historic coat so that none looks similar to the others – all of them are surprising and 'novel'. That is why they offer a wonderful good read about Romania described from an 'outside' perspective. This can be seen in the story of an American girl coming to a city (which can be recognized as Iași) because she is fleeing from some legal problems in her home country. Creating her relationships with several persons in the capital of Romanian Moldova and the thoughts of this very special young woman reveal all the imagination that Maria Rybakova is able to activate when creating her literary worlds of Romania. Each of the stories gives example of this outstanding literary faculty. Rybakova, grand-daughter of Anatolij Rybakov (author of Children of the Arbat), shows in her stories on Romania the talent and literary craftmanship of her grandfather – remarkably written in a language that is not her mother tongue. We hope there will be soon a German translation."—Markus Bauer, kultro.de

On Maria Rybakova's 2015 publication "Gnedich":

“[Maria Rybakova] has a superb ear for seamlessly layering different registers […] Her winningly touching novel deserves an afterlife of its own in an English translation.”—Andrew Kahn in the Times Literary Supplement

“Written in free verse, Rybakova balances evocative indulgence with enough dramatic tension in a surprisingly compelling narrative.”—Michael A. Orthofer in the Complete Review

"The focus is on the effects of aftershocks upon characters not usually the center of interest, which of course makes Maria Rybakova’s writing all the more fascinating and relatable. So too, was it worthwhile to read this provocative book." —Janet Kozachek in Colorado State University Book Reviews
Additional Information

Additional Information

Delivery time 2-3 Tage / 2-3 days
Author Maria Rybakova
Number of pages 184
Language English
Publication date Sep 21, 2021
Weight (kg) 0.2410
ISBN-13 9783838215860