Zenosbooks

The Day Is Born Of Darkness by Mikhail Dyomin. New York. 1976. Knopf. Translated From The Russian By Tony Kahn. keywords: Autobiography Crime Criminals Prison Translated Russia. 371 pages. Jacket design by Lidia Ferrara. 0394491661. April 1976.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Mikhail Dyomin was only 16 when he went to jail for the first time, for evading a compulsory wartime work order. But it was the beginning for him of a 15-year career as a professional criminal, as an inhabitant of one of the strangest and least-known societies on the face of the earth - the Soviet underworld. This extraordinary first-person account of his life there - as a thief, as a convict, as a writer of prison ballads sung in camps from Magadan to the Aral Sea - is an authentic voice out of Russia's lower depths, brilliantly evocative of the color and violence that still lurk behind Communism's stolid gray facade, an engrossing tale of adventure, and probably the fullest picture yet given of life on the wrong side of the law in the Soviet Union. Here in riveting detail are the realities of outlaw existence: the battles in prison ; the tricks of housebreaking, con games, train robbery; the arcana of convict life, from instructions for making a deck of cards out of blood and bread, to tips on eating nettles. Here are the gypsy camps, the brothels and thieves' dens, the black markets and village fairs and long, lonely trains howling into the Asian night, the whole exotic rogue's-world of crime. And here are the characters Dyomin encountered, fought with, loved: Queen Margo, the sophisticated and monumentally connected Grande Dame of Crime; Saloma the Onanist, ultimate prison camp escapist; Khasan, the homicidal cardshark, with his court of cutthroat lovers; the author's deadly enemy Snuffles, whom he finally kills, and dozens more. Dyomin's first robbery, his attendance at the all-European Thieves' Conference in Lvov, his chilling run-in with political terrorists, his narrow escapes, murders, love affairs, imprisonments - adventure piled on adventure, and all recounted with the energy, style, and rolling pace of a born storyteller. THE DAY IS BORN OF DARKNESS ends with the author's discharge from a Siberian labor camp, his dream of becoming a published poet about to come true. Once on the outside, he went on to write five more books under the name Dyomin, becoming a popular and successful writer. In 1971, he quietly defected during a visit to Paris, where he now lives and writes.

Mikhail Dyomin has taken his writing name from the forged identity papers he was forced to use while in hiding within the Soviet criminal underground. He was born Georgy Trifonov in 1926. His mother belonged to the pre-revolutionary nobility; his father, a top Red Army commissar in the Civil War, fell into disfavor and was persecuted during the Stalinist era. Dyomin was first arrested in 1942, at the age of sixteen, for disobeying a compulsory work order. Sentenced to two years of hard labor in a Moscow foundry, he was finally given a medical discharge. He worked for a while as an advertising artist, until an office-wide investigation by the secret police sent him fleeing, without identity papers, into the underground. There he lived for several years, working with a pickpocket gang and 'riding the rails. ' After his arrest, he spent six years in some of the most notorious Arctic camps--as a member of the criminal elite--and during this time earned a name for himself as a 'scribbler' of prison songs and poems. Dyomin's first literary scholarship was earned upon his release from the Siberian camp, when his fellow inmates took up a collection to see him through his first book. In the fifteen years following his release, he published six books; he became a member of the Writers' Union and was by all measures a successful, popular author. Yet, he was dissatisfied with the restrictions imposed by state censorship, and during a visit to France some years ago, he quietly defected. He now lives in a small apartment in Paris, where he continues to write.

Check zenosbooks.com for either a used or a new copy of this book, or you can add it to your wishlist.


 


Search

Zeno's Picks

Neglectedbooks.com

The Neglected Books Page

22 January 2019

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • Quiet Street, by Michael Ossorgin [Mikhail Osorgin] (1930)

    I’ve been saving Mikhail Osorgin’s novel, Quiet Street, for a quiet break. There is something about a good, thick Russian book — things like Anna Karenina, Life and Fate, or Konstantin Paustovsky’s autobiography — that demand you set aside distractions and carve out hours to let it take over your life, and I could tell... Read

    ...
  • Theme with Variations, by G. E. Trevelyan (1938)

    “Samuel Smith was the best part of thirty before anyone told him he was a wage-slave.” With opening sentence of Theme with Variations, G. E. Trevelyan tells her readers they’re not in typical British women’s middlebrow territory anymore. This is not a book about tea parties or sitting rooms: this is book simmering with anger... Read

    ...
  • Ragged Regiment, by George Marion (1981)

    Since the Fifties, there have been plenty of junk or ‘Pulp’ novels depicting the Second World War from American and, to a lesser degree, British & Australian authors. (Yes, even Australia had pulp war novelists. Owen Gibson was one writer who, during the Fifties, churned out about 25 slim novels about Aussies in WW2. Totally... Read more

    The post ...

  • A Family Failure, by Renate Rasp (1970)

    Kuno, the son in Renate Rasp’s novel, A Family Failure, wishes he could be as lucky as Gregor Samsa. When Gregor was transformed into a monstrous cockroach, at least his family had the decency to reject him. Kuno’s family — specifically his stepfather (who prefers to be referred to as “Uncle Felix”) — wants to... Read more

    The post ...

  • Carrington: A Novel of the West, by Michael Straight (1960)

    For an obscure novelist, Michael Whitney Straight (1916- 2004) had an extraordinary life and career. A member of a distinguished family, his maternal grandfather was William C. Whitney, Secretary of the US Navy in the late 1800s, his mother was Dorothy Whitney, the famous philanthropist and his father William (who died of Spanish Flu in... Read

    ...
  • Stunning Portraits from Hungary, by Adrian and Marianne Stokes (1909)

    My wife and I had the chance to spend a few days in Budapest recently, our first visit to Hungary. One afternoon, we visited the M?csarnok Kunsthalle museum, which includes an exhibit of works related to the discovery of Hungarian folk art and lore by artists, musicians, and writers in the early part of the... Read more

    The post ...

  • New Years, 1948 (Boston: Washington and Dover Streets), from Hello, Darkness, by L. E. Sissman (1978)

    Three Stanzas from “New Years, 1948 TWO ‘“Well, happy birthday,” Sally Sayward says, Endowing me invisibly with bays, Each leaf to mark a year. “Now, go away,” She tells me, twenty, but, near-man, I stay To press my case with passive rhetoric Where deeds are needed. Nonetheless, her quick Rejection is retracted. By degrees, I... ...

  • Island in Moonlight, by Kathleen Sully (1970)

    With this, I reach the end of this year’s longest exploration, that into the oeuvre of the utterly forgotten novelist, Kathleen Sully. There is one more of her 17 novels I haven’t read, but the one copy of Not Tonight that was available five months ago has since been snatched up. You have to check... Read more

    The post ...

  • Lou Gehrig’s Last Christmas, from Christmas with Ed Sullivan (1959)

    Dear Ed, Lou died on June 2, 1941. He was unmercifully young — only thirty-eight. Our last Christmas together was in 1940, and to keep Lou occupied I held open house at our home in Riverdale, as I frequently did that last year of his life. He was not bedridden at the time, and he... Read more

    The post ...

  • Dear Wolf, by Kathleen Sully (1967)

    Nob Caldar, the wolf in Kathleen Sully’s Dear Wolf, could be the hero of a 1950s R&B song — the Dominoes’s “Sixty Minute Man” or anything by Bo Diddley (“A young girl’s wish and an old woman’s dream”). He’s the local lovin’ man, who manages to bed at least a dozen different women in the... Read more

    The

    ...
Copyright © 2019 Zenosbooks. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.