Volume Nine of the Kratkaya Literaturnaya Entsiklopediya (Short
Literary Encyclopedia), published in 1978, contains the short entry:
"Yefimov, Igor Markovich, is a Russian Soviet writer, b. 1937.
Graduated from Leningrad Politechnical Institute in 1960, member Union
of Writers since 1965, author of the novels Smotrite, Kto Prishel!
(Look Who's Here!), Laborantka (Lab Girl), Svergnut Vsyakoye Igo (To
Overthrow Every Yoke), children's books, plays, movie, radio and
television scripts." That volume of the encyclopedia appeared in the
same month that the train carried the "Soviet writer" and his family to
the West, crossing the border into Austria.
It was only after he left the USSR that Yefimov could acknowledge that
the works of philosophy, Prakticheskaya Metafizika (Practical
Metaphysics) and Metapolitika (Metapolitics), that had circulated in
Samizdat and had been published in the West under the pseudonym Andrey
Moskovit, were his. Settling in America, he soon founded the Hermitage
publishing house (in 1981), which published poetry, novels, memoirs,
and essays that could not be published in Soviet Russia. Many works of
the Russian writers and poets who are well known today were first
published by Hermitage: books by Sergei Averintsev, Vasily Aksenov,
Fridrikh Gorenstein, Sergei Dovlatov, Lev Losev, Anatoly Naiman, Ernst
Neizvestny, Mark Popovsky and others. Yefimov also wrote and published
more novels -- Kak Odna Plot' (As One Flesh - 1980), Arkhivy Strashnogo
Suda (The Judgement Day Archives -1982, English translation in 1988),
Sed'maya Zhena (The Seventh Wife - 1990, English translation in 1994) -
as well as a historical investigation of the assassination of President
Kennedy (English translation in 1997) and some collections of essays.
After 1991 nearly all of Yefimov's books were published in Russia, now
that it was freed from Communists. Three of his new novels - Ne Mir, No
Mech (Not Peace, But a Sword-1996), Sud Da Delo (Telling It To The
Judge-2001), and Novgorodskii tolmach (An Interpreter from
Novgorod-2003) - were first published in the literary journal Zvezda,
which also published his new work of philosophy, Stydnaya Tayna
Neravenstva (The Shocking Secret of Inequality), as a series of
articles. All the critics who have written about Yefimov have noted the
philosophical nature of his prose. However, his books also have another
characteristic, noted by Yakov Gordin in his foreword to the Russian
edition of the novel Arkhivy Strashnogo Suda (The Judgment Day
Archives): "The real hero of Yefimov's prose has always been human
passion. To put it in other words - will in arousal." Five of Yefimov's
books have been published in the US in English translation.
At present (2010), Igor Yefimov lives with his family in Pennsylvania,
USA. His e-mail: email@example.com
Critical Reaction to Some of Yefimov's Works
"Igor Yefimov belongs to the great
Russian tradition of philosophical writers in the vein of Herzen… The
Seventh Wife is a picaresque novel of extraordinary exuberance… It is
packed with satire, lyricism and action like a movers' van rushing at
blaring speed across America and Russia. It beats any movie you've
seen… (on a cover of English edition)
Lilya Pann (Zvezda, August 1997):
"The Seventh Wife is one of those
occasions when a writer who has over the long years of his life hoarded
up an enormous 'content' and now has found the perfect 'form' in which
to place it . . . It is not every work of that sort that is also going
to be an intoxicating read, but everything in this book is just fine,
save for the fact that it must eventually end."
Anatoliy Nayman (Novyy Mir, November 1996):
"Yefimov writes his stories and novels in
the traditional manner. There is nothing neurotic or illogical or
unmotivated in them, no leaps of consciousness . . .I read his Not
Peace, But a Sword and found myself enjoying the rare pleasure of
balance - of grammar, of thought, of composition."
Andrey Nemzer (Novyy Mir, January 2000):
"The novel Not Peace, But a Sword shows
superlative knowledge of far-off realities (material and spiritual
alike, not just the 'taste, smell, and color' of a far-off epoch, but
also the ideas which it suffered) and extraordinary tact in his use of
the word. . ."
Dmitriy Bavilskiy (Russkiy Zhurnal, September
"Igor Yefimov's Flying Corpse is the main
success of this year's magazine season. . . Everything in the novel is
drawn into a tight knot that permits one to follow the development of
the plot lines with a certain pleasant inevitability, but yet also with
unflagging interest. The reader has long ago wearied of waiting for
such an intelligent book."
Sergey Dovlatov (Radio Liberty):
"Yefimov's mastery as a writer of prose
shows in the dynamic and engaging plot [of the novel The Judgment Day
Archives], the bright colors, the vivid and recognizable characters,
and the laconic, meaningful dialogue."
World Literature Today.
Reader is favorably impressed in the long
run by plot and characters [in The Judgment Day Archives], as well as
by realism sometimes bordering on the surreal - not to mention
occasional excursions into romanticism…
New York Times Book Review
The Judgment Day Archives is about many
things other than the K.G.B. versus a beautiful hematologist. It is
about power and our fear of our mortality… Efimov uses the complicated
machinery of his novel to investigate how we are able to live in a
This talented Russian's latest work [The
Seventh Wife] is a comedy, mystery, adventure, romance, and satire
rolled into one and peppered with relentless sly social commentary
reminiscent of Bulgakov at his best.
[In The Seventh Wife] Efimov's broad
humor keenly depicts people who straddle two cultures [American and
Russian], and the inevitable mix-ups that occur when those cultures
collide… Was a bestseller in Russia.
- Our Choice And History. New York, 1985.
- The Judgment Day Archives. San Francisco, 1988.
("Архивы Страшного суда".)
- The Seventh Wife. Dallas, 1994. ("Седьмая
- Did Castro Kill Kennedy? Miami, 1997.
("Кеннеди, Освальд, Кастро, Хрущёв".)
- Five Talents or One? The Shocking Secret of
Inequality. Tenafly, USA, 2004. ("Стыдная тайна неравенства")