When the Whales Leave

by Yuri Rytkheu

Rating: 4 (1 vote)

Tags: Set in Russia Male author

When the Whales Leave

Nau cannot remember a time when she was not one with the world around her: with the fast breeze, the green grass, the high clouds, and the endless blue sky. But her greatest joy is to descend from her little spit of land to the sea, where the whales gather each morning, gaily spouting rainbows. Then, one day, she finds a man in the mist where a whale should be: Reu, who has taken human form out of his Great Love for her. Together they become parents first to two whales, and then to mankind. Their children grow up, Reu passes on, and still Nau lives. But with each new generation, the old woman's stories are further subsumed into myth, and her descendants grow more distant from the brotherhood with the whales and other creatures that once anchored their existence. Buoyantly translated into English for the first time by Ilona Yazhbin Chavasse,When the Whales Leave is another unforgettable work of fiction from Yuri Rytkheu, "arguably the foremost writer to emerge from the minority peoples of Russia's far north" (New York Review of Books). This new entry in the Seedbank series is at once a vibrant retelling of the origin story of the Chukchi and a timely parable about the consequences of extraction and environmental degradation.

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