If Nabokov and Paul Auster had a child, Eugene Dubnov's novel It Alters All Appearances would be born as a seamless orchestration of thriller, fairy tale, and love story. It has a playful post-modern tilt that makes the reader aware of different genres and levels of language without losing narrative momentum. Yuri, a Russian in England who is stalked by informers, invites readers to share the perceptive lenses of a bi-lingual traveler, as well as the loneliness and moments of naiveté. Dubnov’s pitch-perfect dialogue interweaves with passages of controlled lyricism that explode into pure poetry. The occasional appearance of musical scores illuminates the music of language and form that Dubnov portrays so artfully. It Alters All Appearances is an original and penetrating book. This reader was sorry when it ended.
Eugene Dubnov’s writings are extensive and read world-wide, which is the best testimony of his powers and talents.
Chekhov comes to the Soviet era in Eugene Dubnov’s stories of growing up in post-war Tallinn, Riga and Moscow. Delicate, sensuous and emotionally fluent, these interconnected vignettes of young people’s loves and politics give us vivid and surprising insights into the textures of life in both the outposts and very centre of the former Soviet Empire, even as they explore, with delicate and poignant irony, the pleasures, triumphs and defeats of a sensitive youth on his way from innocence to experience. An illuminating and highly readable collection.
Dubnov has Kafka’s deftness in fusing surreal and ordinary into haunting parables.
Eugene Dubnov wrote his dissertation on the poetry of T.S.Eliot; in writing his short stories, he seems to have been inspired by another modern master. James Joyce once said that he hoped that a "special odour of corruption" would float over the stories in his first book, Dubliners. He meant the corruption of the decadent British Empire , which would lose most of Ireland in 1922. Similarly, Dubnov's stories are a study in the corruption of the Soviet Empire, which would collapse in 1989. Like Joyce, Dubnov wants to write "a chapter in the moral history of [his] country."
D.L.Macdonald, Professor of English, Calgary University, Editor, The Writer and Human Rights and Human Rights in Literature
These stories employ an agile courage, as the characters wryly observe their human foibles and keep going through the insanity of the world around them.
Joy Harjo, Poet and musician, Professor, UCLA
These are excellent stories, and I much enjoyed reading them. Eugene Dubnov writes of things that few of us can know about; he creates curiosity, then goes on to satisfy it like a true storyteller.
I found Eugene Dubnov’s stories sharp and funny and sad, conveying a sense of the surreal atmosphere of life in a police state and the irrepressible inventiveness of the youthful imagination.
The stories graphically illustrate the pain, the despair, the joy of youth; they will resonate across the board with readers of every age.
A writer worth cultivating... master of language and variations of tone... these stories keep the alert reader on tenterhooks of admiration.
What I enjoyed most in these stories is the weight of the language. Each word is weighted, each thought followed through: measured thinking, the whisper of wit, the sting in the tail. We have become so post-Romantic here that it is a most pleasant surprise to read these slightly haunted stories and catch glimpses of a life that we have never known. Enigmatic, satiric, they are at heart sad stories - though funny to read - of people who have no surety of their lives; people watched constantly by the State and interfered with over trivial happenings; people whose dreams are more solid than their realities; you feel they may break at any moment. They are unsettling stories. They insist you look at realities about which we know nothing. One of our Irish poets, Richard Murphy, says: "Trout on a calm summer day / Wait rise to a fly / Or swallow a worm on a hook. / A breeze has to animate the surface / And mystify the deep / To bring a reward." The breeze is here in the writing and the reward is worth the fishing.