The Twelve Chairs

E-book – $22.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-6716-2
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Trade Paper – $22.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2772-2
Publication Date
October 2011
Page Count
574 pages
Trim Size
5.125 x 7.75

The Twelve Chairs

A Novel

Winner, 2012 Northern California Book Award for Fiction in Translation

More faithful to the original text and its deeply resonant humor, this new translation of The Twelve Chairs brings Ilf and Petrov’s Russian classic fully to life. The novel’s iconic hero, Ostap Bender, an unemployed con artist living by his wits, joins forces with Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, a former nobleman who has returned to his hometown to look for a cache of missing jewels hidden in chairs that have been appropriated by the Soviet authorities. The search for the chairs takes them from the provinces of Moscow to the wilds of the Transcaucasus mountains. On their quest they encounter a variety of characters, from opportunistic Soviet bureaucrats to aging survivors of the old propertied classes, each one more selfish, venal, and bungling than the last. A brilliant satire of the early years of the Soviet Union, as well as the inspiration for a Mel Brooks film, The Twelve Chairs retains its universal appeal.
About the Author

Ilya Ilf Fainzilberg (1837 – 1937) and Evgeny Petrovich Kataev (1903 – 1942) met in Moscow in 1925 and wrote this novel from a plot idea suggested to them by Kataev’s famous brother, the novelist Valentin. Their subsequent joint works – including The Golden Calf (1931) and One-Storey High America (1936) – were equally popular in Russia.

Anne O. Fisher translated Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov’s The Little Golden Calf (2009), awarded the 2011 AATSEEL Book Prize for Best Translation into English, and Ilf and Petrov’s American Road Trip: The 1935 Travelogue of Two Soviet Writers (2007), short-listed for the 2007 Rossica prize. She lives in San Francisco.

"No translator knows Ilf and Petrov like Anne Fisher. The Twelve Chairs is a ruthless skewering of Soviet and Russian culture and society that is as relevant (and funny) today as when it was published in 1928. And of course Fisher’s translation is brilliant and fresh, brimming with invaluable footnotes to provide context and meaning to the text." —Russian Life