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Catalog Archive / Fall 2024

Written for the Drawer
Leonid Tsypkin, Uncensored Literature, and Soviet Jewishness

“A valuable contribution that helps us better understand the complicated phenomenon that is Soviet Jewishness. This book will benefit scholars in Russian and Slavic literary studies, Jewish literary studies, and comparative literature, and will be a good addition to the bookshelf of readers interested in the ruminative twentieth-century prose that Tsypkin’s work represents.”
—Sasha Senderovich, author of How the Soviet Jew Was Made

The life and work of a 20th-century Jewish Soviet author

Russian-Jewish writer Leonid Tsypkin (1926–82), a doctor by trade, wrote primarily “for the drawer,” fearing professional consequences if he were to publish his fiction. Despite Tsypkin’s almost complete lack of readership during his lifetime, his work has received international posthumous recognition, with Susan Sontag calling his work “among the most beautiful, exalting, and original achievements of a century’s worth of fiction.”

Tsypkin’s autobiographical writing explored the impossibility of being both a Russian writer and a Soviet Jew, employing both indirection and referentiality. In the first full-length book on his work, Brett Winestock considers Tsypkin’s fiction as part of a transnational literary response to the horrors of the twentieth century, a reception that helps explain his much-belated international readership. Through close readings of Tsypkin’s work in the context of late-Soviet cultural worlds, Winestock makes an important contribution to studies of Jewish Soviet writing and identity.


Brett Winestock. Photo credit, Shira Bitan. Brett Winestock is an assistant professor of Russian studies at Dalhousie University. His research has been published in In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies and The Russian Review.



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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Note on Transliteration
Introduction: The Uncensored Man
Chapter One: The Uncensored Text as a Family Photo Album
Chapter Two: A Soviet Jew in Armenia
Chapter Three: Reading Tsypkin Reading Dostoevsky
Chapter Four: Tsypkin in St. Petersburg
Conclusion: A Book’s Journey


Of Related Interest


Exodus and Its Aftermath
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It Will Be Fun and Terrifying
Nationalism and Protest in Post-Soviet Russia
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Written for the Drawer: a black and white photo of messy shelves in an office. The title text is written in contrasting, bold yellow and white font.

Larger images

December 2024
232 pp. 6 x 9
9 b/w illus.

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Printed Case $99.95 S
ISBN 9780299350000
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