... beautifully translated from Russian into English by Antonina W Bouis. Lebedev’s latest is his most ambitious, tackling a huge swath of Russian history — from the beginning of the 19th century up to the present day — while never letting its pacy, compelling narrative flag ... The extraordinary pathos in Lebedev’s novel is not about how such acquirements were lost but how an entire family can fall prey to helplessness if shunned. The most moving passages are those where Kirill considers the Siege of Leningrad, which left great aunt Tonya stranded ... brave and unflinching in its depiction of racial persecution.
Antonina W. Bouis has once again delivered a translation of determined, adamantine beauty. To my mind, the most exciting prose works being translated from Russian today concern reckonings with the past: These include Svetlana Alexievich’s oral histories, Mikhail Shishkin’s time-traveling experimental fictions and, completing the troika, Mr. Lebedev’s tenacious, powerfully imagined adventures in the archives.
The novel contains remarkably little dramatic tension; interpersonal stakes are rarely articulated or even made palpable. Incomprehensibly large and complex historical trajectories take the place of discernible psychological motivations. Kirill does what he does, thinks what he thinks, because he is in thrall to a larger psychology, a suprapersonal ethics that belongs to the narrator ... The text is rich ... there is little unease in the course of The Goose Fritz: its sense of destiny is too strong, its hero too bound up in his narrator to allow for internal distance. This hermeticism results in a kind of interpretive dogma ... Each detail of narration is an occasion for a meaningful sign to appear, and the purposiveness of these signs is never second-guessed ... Lebedev’s prose is lyrical as a rule: cast in assonant patterns, attentive to rhythmic weight, responsive to the habits and desires of language. Antonina W. Bouis’s translation is both faithful and inspired, spinning the story out in a tirelessly beautiful English.