Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Short Stories from Azerbaijan

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 25th February, 2021

Though V S Pritchett is widely acknowledged to be the doyen of short story writing, as a literary genre in Britain it is particularly favoured by women. It is something of a surprise, therefore, that only two stories included in this extensive collection of short stories from Azerbaijan (published in the UK by Hertfordshire Press) are from female hands. This tells us quite a lot about a society in which women writers have failed to make much impact. In fact, none of the writers is young, either; all are aged 50 or more. Indeed, most of the works chosen are by men firmly in and of the 20th century, at a time when Azerbaijan was still part of the Soviet Union. Politics, accordingly, does not rear its head.

Only three of the tales is set it the capital, Baku, so this is very much about the village. Where men (usually) are men, when they have not had too much vodka, where the women often get knocked about — yet they yearn for love from their mates. The best of all, in my view, is Elchin’s “The Death of Koschei the Deathless”, about a prize cock who loses all his bravado after a single defeat in a cockfight, though I also smiled at Anar’s “A Georgian Surname”. In her brief introduction, Elizabeth White, the British Council representative in Azerbaijan, says that this anthology lets us know about the people of that country and those who lived there. She is right.

One Response to “Short Stories from Azerbaijan”

  1. Tony Harms said

    I was going to say that it’s good to see James Branch Cabell is still read in Azerbaijan if nowhere else, but a short Google search informs me of my ignorance. Still, God as a faceless bureaucrat might well have appealed to the Soviet mindset.

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