Pu-239

Other Editions

Pu-239
And Other Russian Fantasies

Spanning a century of Russian history, a book of short stories that include “Pu-239,” the source for the HBO movie.

- Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award
- A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
- Village Voice Writer on the Verge Award
- Pushcart Prize


"['Birobidzhan'] is a masterpiece: wrenching, tender, harrowing and suffused with the sad comedy of an idealistic intensity that it refuses to mock.... "

— Jim Shephard, The New York Times Book Review  ("Dead Souls: Ken Kalfus's fiction portrays the long-running dismal farce that was Soviet Russia")

"Kalfus is not a political writer, really. He loves to tell stories, loves imagining other people's lives and experiences, and we can sense this in the delicate unraveling of each plot, of each sentence. There is, among us, a storyteller - how rare a gift this is!"

— Keith Gessen, The Boston Book Review  ("A Storyteller Among the Ruins")

"...so full of pleasure and wonder from sentence to sentence and page to page that it touches the reader physically, as Borges once put it, 'like the closeness of the sea or of the morning.'...[Kalfus's] writing is alternately sparse or lush where appropriate, and Kalfus...exudes an uncanny authenticity...Kalfus inhabits the consciousness of all his disparate characters with equal adroitness. The stories themselves have a cumulative power, achieving an epic vision of a country and its past as well as an intimate portrait of individual lives."

— Andrew Roe, San Francisco Chronicle  (Piecing Together Fragments Of Russia's History in Short Stories)

"It is exceptionally difficult for a foreigner to write fiction about Russia and get it right. Ken Kalfus gets its right. Again and again. In this new collection of short stories, Kalfus excavates the subtleties of the Russian psyche and soul with understanding and sympathy. and a fair measure of irony."

— Russian Life

"Kalfus prove[s] himself to be one of those rare writers who manages to tackle lofty issues of transnational culture and capitalism with a gentle humanist touch, making his stories at once intellectually provocative and emotionally satisfying."

— Booklist

"Kalfus conveys a sense of Soviet and post-Soviet life in the stories here -- you'd think he'd lived there for decades. Kalfus is that rare writer of fiction whose passages of description feel like action; it's as if he were injecting his readers with a serum that renders them, in a rush, intimately familiar with the texture of the Russian experience."

— Salon  (review)



The New Yorker