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Briefly Noted

Newspaper: The New Yorker
Date: May 16 2017

Blacklisted by the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Bulgakov, the great Russian satirist, spent much of the nineteen-thirties unpublished and living in penury. This richly imagined retelling of those lean years—which gave rise to his phantasmagoric novel “The Master and Margarita”—mixes fact and fiction to create a narrative that is both foreign and familiar. Readers acquainted with Bulgakov’s work will recognize the memorable tropes: a burning manuscript, a delirium tremens diagnosis, linden trees at Patriarch’s Ponds. Yet the novel is not a tribute but a complex and original work, written in a style that is the polar opposite of Bulgakov’s antic magic realism.