January 31, 1908|
St Petersburg, Russia
|Died||October 2004 (aged 95–96)
Natalya Vladimirovna Baranskaya (Russian: Наталья Владимировна Баранская; January 31, 1908 – October 2004) was a Soviet writer of short stories or novellas. She was born in 1908 in Russia, and graduated in 1929 from Moscow State University with degrees in philology and ethnology. After the war, while she raised two children alone since her husband was killed in 1943, she also attended post-graduate school part-time and earned yet another degree. She spent eight years of her life working at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and did not begin the majority of her writing career until after her retirements in 1966.
"A Week Like Any Other" (1968)
Published in Novy Mir in 1969. Not published in English until 1990.
Her experiences are reflected in her interest in working women with children - it's a recurring theme in these stories, which were first published from 1969 to 1986. Baranskaya's focus jumps from character to character, and her stories develop slowly, through action and detail, though they are less tightly structured than American short fiction. The Petunin Affair, told from a man's point of view, reveals the petty side of Soviet bureaucrats, while Lubka traces the reformation of a juvenile delinquent.
By far the strongest piece is the title novella, which details Olga Voronkova's normal week as both full-time research scientist and mother of two. Her days begin at 6 a.m., end after midnight and are so busy she can't find time to sew a hook on a skirt all week. Olga is efficient at work, supportive at home, and yet. . . A flashback to her honeymoon gives both Olga and her readers a breather. The narrator makes no judgments, but shows one woman's daily difficulties and rewards clearly.
Memorable Quotes "We've done an enormous amount to liberate women, and there is absolutely no reason not to believe in the desire and will to do more." –Maria Matveyevna.
"I've lost seventy-eight days, almost a third of my whole working time, in sick days and certificates. And all because of the children. Everybody copies out their days and so can see what everybody else has got. I don’t understand why I feel so awkward, even ashamed. I shrink, avoid looking at people. Why? I’m not guilty of anything." –Olya
"As I pass by I say loudly: 'Incidentally, I've got a degree as well, you know, I'm just as highly trained as you are.' 'Congratulations,' Dima Replies."
- An Anthology of Russian Women's Writing, 1777-1992. Contributors: Catriona Kelly - editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of Publication: Oxford. Publication Year: 1998. p397.
- Book Reviews: A Week Like Any Other: Novellas and Other Short Stories. By Natalia Baranskaya. Kueglman. Seattle, WA. Seal Press, 1989. pp93–94.
- The Nation. Katrina Vanden Heuvel. "Glasnost for Women?" June 4, 1990. p775.