Those who doubt that literary experimentation and a good, engaging story can exist in the same space should have a look at the work of the Soviet author Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. Krzhizhanovsky, who wrote mostly from the 1920s to the 1940s, saw almost all the fruits of his fantastic imagination censored by the Soviet government. His strange fables of Soviet life were much too original for socialist realism and his lonely, vaguely disaffected intellectuals were certainly not the kind of citizen-artist the Soviet state wanted to exhibit. It was only in the 1980s that he become known in Russian, three decades after his death, and his English debut came even later, with the 2009 story collection Memories of the Future.
For all Krzhizhanovsky’s avant-garde bona fides, few authors speak more honestly about the power great literature can exert on a reader and on its creator.