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The Buddha's Return (Pushkin Collection) Paperback – 28 Aug 2014

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (28 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782270590
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782270591
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 1.7 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 505,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The Gazdanov revival... is nothing short of a literary event... Gazdanov's thrillers offer a truly original vision, distinguished by profound existential and metaphysical concerns, a peculiar sense of humour, and enchanting prose, which Bryan Karetnyk has once again reproduced with impeccable grace' TLS

'He has his own utterly distinctive voice... Pushkin Press is to be congratulated on reviving an author who is as relevant now as ever' Spectator

'Eccentric... exciting... an offbeat appeal and flashes of black humour... a fascinating writer' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

(Praise for The Spectre of Alexander Wolf) 'A masterpiece... it will stay with you for the rest of your life' Guardian; 'Mesmerising' Antony Beevor; 'Devastatingly atmospheric' Irish Times; 'Irresistible' Daily Mail; 'As if the roman policier has been filtered through Dostoevsky... just waiting to be discovered by a filmmaker' TLS

'Gadzanov is a modernist master' Mary O'Donoghue, Irish Times

'I would eagerly recommend... Bryan Karetnyk's sensitive re-translation' --Boris Dralyuk, PEN Atlas

About the Author

Gaito Gazdanov (1903-1971) joined the White Army aged just sixteen and fought in the Russian Civil War. Exiled in Paris from the 1920s onwards, he eventually became a nocturnal taxi-driver and quickly gained prominence on the literary scene as a novelist, essayist, critic and short-story writer, and was greatly admired by Maxim Gorky, among others. His 1949 novel The Spectre of Alexander Wolf was published by Pushkin Press to great acclaim in 2013.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Somewhat fragmentary in places, which perhaps may put some readers off, although it was one of the aspects that I liked about this novel which was originally published in 1949/1950, another aspect that fascinated me was the way in which the opening scenes lead into one another, before you're fully aware of it you find yourself caught in the sweep of the main narrative. I've yet to read 'The Spectre of Alexander Wolf', also translated from the Russian by Bryan Karetnyk, so I'm unable to make a comparison between the two books. One of the constants to 'The Buddha's Return' is that of the character Pavel Alexandrovich Shcherbakov, who the narrator initially meets as a beggar in Paris, and after giving him some money, more perhaps than he may have intended to give due to not having any change, he finds that this simple act of generosity will go on to have ramifications that return to him later throughout the novel.

Described as a noir the novel works it's way into exploring bigger themes, taking in the philosophical, religious and the political, it casts it's net into a broad and varied sea of subjects, and at the same time it's finale grips the reader in the style of a classic whodunnit, when the Buddha statuette goes missing at the murder scene it becomes pivotal in unlocking the case and in some ways that as well of the relationship between the enigmatic Shcherbakov, his mistress, Lida, and the narrator. Gazdanov adds additional characters and portraits to the story, one being Catherine, a woman whose relationship the narrator recalls in memories that interpose the main story, which is also left until the novel's closing pages before being resolved. Very much looking forward to 'An Evening With Claire' and also catching up with a reading of 'The Spectre of Alexander Wolf'.
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By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 May 2015
Format: Paperback
I didn't get on with this book at all. It’s the sort of writing that just doesn’t appeal to me. It’s fragmentary and discursive and the play on what’s real and what’s not simply gets on my nerves. I’ve seen this admittedly intriguing novel called a “metaphysical thriller” and an “existential meditation”, and Gazdanov himself called a modernist master. And that’s the trouble – I don’t enjoy too heavy a dose of modernism. Part dream, part detective story, part love story, it’s a novel in which a criminal plot is combined with meditations on death, fate, dreams and the hallucinatory nature of reality. None of which makes for a good satisfying read for me. The unnamed narrator finds himself arrested and charged with the murder of a millionaire acquaintance. A valuable golden statue of the Buddha is missing. This little statue is pivotal in unravelling the murder case, but as I didn’t care for any of the characters I didn't really care whether the murder was solved or not.
However, I am very grateful to Pushkin Press for republishing this little known Russian émigré writer and to Netgalley for letting me have a copy for review. I’d not heard of him before, and I always like to discover new Russian writers. Gazdanov was born in Russia in 1903, fought for the Whites in the Civil war and fled to Paris where he soon became part of the vibrant literary culture there. Unable to be published in the Soviet Union, his works are now acclaimed in Russia and around the world. Worth trying to see if he’s for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dislocation of a Dream 9 July 2015
By Roger Brunyate - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book spoke to me first as a physical object: a beautifully bound paperback in a small squarish format, clearly printed and fitting beautifully into the hand. An attractive cover, with images of a golden Buddha, a half-naked woman, and a bridge in Paris. And short, only 220 smallish pages. I start with the facts because it is so difficult to describe the content. So here are a few more. Born in 1903, Gaito Gazdanov fought as a teenager against the Reds in the Russian Revolution; like many of his compatriots, he found refuge in Paris, and gradually established a place in the French literary scene. This novel was serialized in a Russian-language French journal between 1949 and 1950. The translation by Bryan Karetnyk seems a bit dense, but I suspect it is entirely in keeping with the avant-garde style of the time.

OK, so what is it? At least two different books, I would say. The first, beginning (almost) with the words "I died in the month of June, at night, during one of my first years abroad," is a nightmare, dominated by dreams and extended hallucinations. The second, beginning (again almost) with the words "You're under arrest" on page 133, is much more literal. Parts of it do live up the the jacket's promise of a detective story as one of the ingredients in this witches' broth, and another ingredient, the love story, begins to raise a tentative head towards the end of the book. The protagonist-narrator, an unnamed Russian history student at the Sorbonne, has already been arrested in the first part, to be interrogated in the cellars of the "Central Power," but that turns out to be one of the hallucinations to which he is periodically subject, a never-ending nightmare out of Kafka or Orwell.

Not there are not real elements in the first part also. For example, the student, approached by a beggar in the Luxembourg who addresses him in remarkably cultivated Russian, gives the man more money than he can easily afford. A year or so later, the former beggar will come into a surprising windfall and his life will be linked with that of the student from that point on. There is also a young woman named Lida, who is the mistress of the older man and the subject of the younger one's fantasies, but is herself linked to a tubercular, illiterate abattoir worker from Tunis…

But what's the point trying to summarize? You don't read this book for plot. In fact, you don't read it so much as submit to it. And, in doing so, immerse yourself in the cross-currents of mid-century literature, drawing you down into a sort of whirlpool. You will think of Camus and Sartre, certainly, and Kafka as I have mentioned, but all seasoned with a particularly Russian quirkiness that I associate with Gorky, who was apparently a great admirer. Which takes me back to the facts at the beginning: this young man fighting for a lost cause, ripped from the stability of the world he had known, exiled in a strange but seductively heady city… what else would he write about but dislocation?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Buddha's Return 21 Jun. 2015
By J. Hamby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Although it is not a very long book, I found this a tight and almost dense book.

Although in some senses I found the language to be a bit dated, in the end, this is a book that fits under the definition of timeless. It is a bit "important" at times, The author's message might be wrapped in the story but it never disappeared which sometimes made it a bit too dense for me. Still Gazdanov has some wonderful insight that simply does not age. Well worth reading. And admirable to have this book in print in an age when too many novels fall into the "mash category" (Harry Potter meets Bourne Identity) it seems.
1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star 22 July 2015
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a strange book
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