A review of

The Street of Crocodiles

by Bruno Schulz

Central question: What happens in the seasons the calendar omits?
Format: 368 pp., hardcover; Size: 5" x 8"; Price: $15.00; Publisher: Penguin Classics; Editor: John Siciliano; Forward by: Jonathan Safran Foer; Introduction by: David Goldfarb; Print run: 8,000; Cover illustration: Bruno Schulz; Cover collage: Jennifer Wang; Number of ruling or occupying powers that controlled Schulz’s home town in a single century: five (Austria-Hungary, Poland, Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, Ukraine); Representative Sentence: “Here we were going to locate the node of all processes that course through the body of nature, the point of entry to all story threads and fables shimmering in her great misty soul.”

Bruno Schulz has sustained a premier yet often unrecognized position in the mythology of twentieth-century literature, famously inspiring authors and artists from Philip Roth to the Brothers Quay despite the fact that, since his mainstream English introduction in 1977, only his first publication has been consistently available. Thirty years later, Penguin Classics has released a new edition titled The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories, which includes the title book, three literary sketches, and Schulz’s second collection, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, with his original drawings.

In Schulz’s dreamlike stories, the provincial—that which is banal, in-between, unnoticed—becomes the universe itself. Schulz takes images or scenes ignored by many but primary to him, and purposefully confounds them with pleonastic descriptions, complicated explanations, and philosophized word-dances.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—David Stromberg

David Stromberg is the author of three collections of single-panel cartoons. He has written for the St. Petersburg Times and Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture. His fiction has appeared in Ambit.

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