Susanne Fusso, Marcus L. Taft Professor of Modern Languages, professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, is the translator of the first English-language version of Sergey Gandlevsky’s novel Illegible, published by Northern Illinois University Press.
Gandlevsky (b. 1952) is widely recognized as one of the most important living Russian poets and prose writers, and has received numerous literary prizes. Illegible, published in 2002, is his only work of prose fiction to date.
The novel has a double time focus, with both the immediate experiences and retrospective meditations of Lev Krivorotov, a 20-year-old poet living in Moscow in the 1970s. As the work begins, Lev is involved in a tortured affair with an older woman and envious of his more privileged friend and fellow novice poet Nikita, one of the children of high Soviet functionaries who were known as “golden youth.” Both narratives see Lev recounting with regret and self-castigation the failure of a double infatuation-turned-love triangle. Illegible provides unparalleled access to the atmosphere of Moscow and the ethos of the late Soviet and post-Soviet era, while simultaneously demonstrating the universality of human emotion.
Illegible is the second work of Gandlevsky’s that Fusso has translated. In 2014, she published an English-language translation of his autobiographical novel, Trepanation of the Skull.