Even readers previously unconcerned with the questions and technicalities of translation will tell you that Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are incomparable translators of Russian into English. A diverse collection of short stories by Leo Tolstoy is the latest volume to benefit from the couple’s treatment. The Death Of Ivan Ilyich And Other Stories (Knopf, $28.95) is a beautiful hardcover edition of the Russian master’s short works. It draws from both the beginning and the end of Tolstoy’s ambivalent and divided writing career. The collection of eleven stories includes his autobiographical work, “Prisoner of the Caucasus,” and his return to the mountain setting of Chechnya and Dagestan for his final work, a cynical and anti-imperialist novella based on a real-life hero of holy war, “Hadji Murat.”

The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other STories (Vintage Classics) Cover Image
By Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear (Translated by), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780307388865
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - October 5th, 2010

The Lacuna (HarperCollins, $26.99) is an engrossing historical fiction, told as the journals of Harrison Shepherd, a fictional author who reflects on the crowds, caprices, and injustices of 20th-century North America. This is the first novel in nine years by Barbara Kingsolver, and it boasts her courageous—but always literary—concern for injustice and cultural difference. Born into a confused heritage—his father absent, his mother Mexican—Harrison’s experience encapsulates that of both countries: through his eyes we witness the Bonus Army riots, the murals of Diego Rivera, Trotsky’s assassination, World War II metal drives, and the McCarthy trials. Lively renderings of Frida Kahlo, Trotsky, and even Richard Nixon combine with documentary support from Times articles (authentic and fabricated) and a heartbreaking concern for the fate of truth in the infancy of the media age to create the rare sort of novel that is both totally absorbing in its fiction and yet profoundly engages the reader with the world of fact beyond its pages.

The Lacuna: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060852580
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harper Perennial - July 20th, 2010

Math, that most abstract and abstruse of disciplines, is made wondrously clear in Clifford Pickover’s The Math Book (Sterling, $29.95). The volume’s 250 approachable, chronological mini-essays function as 250 distinct points of entry into the theory, practice, and application of math. Even the captions alone elucidate the concepts at hand. Each entry is comprised of two or three paragraphs that either lay out a puzzle, depict a life, or present the applications of a breakthrough. Each is illustrated by way of diagrams, archaeological finds, even documentary photographs and paintings.

The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics (Sterling Milestones) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781402788291
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sterling - February 7th, 2012