Reviews from readers and critics
A big thank you for your creations! I wish you health, don’t stop writing. I enjoy reading, and what’s more important, re-reading your books. Thank you again!
August 16 2011. Message sent to site.
Hello, Alexander. I’ve read your novels “Laugh, clown!” and “Teza from our block”. I laughed a lot and cried a little. Of course we can never win over the cruel and the ignorant, but your books help putting up a worthy resistance. Thank you very much!
August 22 2011. Messagesenttosite.
To editors of “Soviet Culture” magazine!
Please be kind and send Alexander Kanevsky our huge gratitude for his story “Daddy is back” (too bad there aren’t many stories like this out there)! You have to agree: it’s a delightful and hilarious story!.. Kanevsky did exceptionally well! We thank him!.. We were laughing so hard, unbelievable…
The Kisiliov Family, Leningrad, USSR
A reader’s letter to chief editor of “Ogoniok” Magazine
I’ve read a book “Teza from our block” by A. Kanevsky published by Ogoniok Mini-Library. In my opinion, the book was written with much talent. I am originally from Odessa myself, and it really conveyed that special atmosphere I once knew, it all felt so familiar, to the smallest of details!.. I’d like to ask of you to persuade the writer to continue the story of this book, I’m very curious about the faith of its characters. I thank you in advance and hope you will do so. If it wouldn’t trouble you, please inform me whether this suggestion can be realized, so I can pre-order both the book and its future sequel. It is impossible to get the first book – it’s completely sold out.
Verbny Ilia, War and Labor Veteran
From review on “My name is Mania!” (A play based on “Teza from our block”)
…The typical Odessa back yard, similar to a mutual apartment, where everybody and everything is on site, where a fight can momentarily turn into a pathos-filled expression of love, is not as mythical now, as it was in times of Isaac Babel: between then and now there were the thirties and the forties with their repressions and “cleanses” and a World War.
The unclear, unwanted, brushed-aside feeling of an imminent cardinal change lurks like a shadow over the shoulders of all of the characters, who suffer, laugh and reflect on their lives in the play “My name is Mania” by Alexander Kanevsky based on his novel “Teza from our block”.
Alexander Kanevsky is one of the “golden pleiad” of Russian writers, created in the nineteen-nineties a literary testimony of this period of “the great change”, which in turn gave birth to a great Aliah, a mass exodus of the People, who were surprised, stricken, and sometimes reluctant to feel its ancient roots.
I, who came to Israel with the Aliah of the 70-ties, as an outside observer of sorts, wasn’t a bit surprised that this novel by Alexander Kanevsky was hugely popular.
It was truly a testimony of each and every person of a million people, who in such short time moved not only through space, but through their own souls, whose roots were still aching for the land where they were born.
Efraim Bauch, writer, laureate of international awards and
President of the State of Israel Award.
“Vesti” newspaper, January of 2006.
About the collection of short stories “The Unusuals”
There’s a special, unique, totally individual ability to write funny, amusingly, in a way that you want to read everything out loud. Alexander Kanevsky possesses exactly that ability. How is he reaching this effect? Why do his novels, stories, miniatures and sketches make you cry with laughter?.. I believe he knows how to play out a chosen topic in various comical aspects – and he knows to serve each one with finesse, sharpness and wit, leaving between those thematic twists just enough space for a reader to have a good laugh. Nothing is to the excess, everything “works”, and everything serves a purpose. And this goes on in each and every story! There’s no analyzing it – it’s a gift. And among the hilarious stories this book contains those that through the laughter show a deep human sadness. It’s been known that the highest form of humor is tragicomedy. When we sense, that through the laughter there’s suddenly a lump in our throat, and our eyes tear up. Not many possess the art of this kind of writing, because to write like this you need to really love people. Alexander Kanevsky definitely has it.
Vladimir Vladko, writer,
From an introduction to “Hello, I can see you!” short stories collection.
…Kanevsky is so jolly, he’s all smiles!.. But don’t be fooled by this smile of his. It mesmerizes you, but then it starts to wear off, like anesthesia. And then it hurts. This is as good as satire gets. A crude, loud satire is no satire at all. It’s just bad manners.
The best thing about Alexander Kanevsky’s work is that he deciphers the parts of ourselves that we sometimes don’t even know exist. He gives us harsh words, but not in an insulting way, but lightly, wittily, optimistically. I won’t bother trying to explain how he does it. I really don’t know. He just does!
Eduard Grafov, journalist
From a review on “Kidding, but seriously” short stories collection
…Kanevsky’s stories are written in a simple “everyday”, yet never vulgar, language, which allows not only reading them, but successfully performing them on stage. The author’s sense of humor is his tool he uses to reveal interesting and recognizable themes… Kanevsky doesn’t turn to some abstract, pseudo-eternal problems, but to the real “here and now” shortcomings, which every person can and must correct within himself… This collection contains stories by Alexander Kanevsky that are optimistic, filled with love and kindness toward the human kind.
Arkadiy Arkanov, writer,
laureate of numerous international literary awards. Moscow
Review on the play “The three floor polishers”
This is the second play by A. Kanevsky that I get to review. It is clear to me that the author, who I don’t know in person, is clearly a gifted, original dramaturge, with his own style and refined sense of humor.
“The three floor polishers” is not an illustrative play, but one of clearly stated idea and its own pathos… The author, not fearing sharpness, not hiding his ideas inside smooth forms, reveals himself as an individual who bravely faces the various hassles of our lives, in the name of the kind of life our people truly deserve. I specifically point out the organic humor in which the comedy is written, as well as the brilliantly written psychological scenes… All of these are gems of humor, so rare in our comedy today, and passing them by would be an unforgivable waste!
I could go on and on in favor of this talented, witty and courageous play, but I will conclude by calling out to support its author and let the play be produced. It would be wonderful to find a talented stage-director, worthy of this talented material.
A. Poltoratzky, professor, literary critic
Review on “Let’s turn red!” short stories collection
Alexander Kanevsky is an established author who needs no introduction. The day that he became well-known, in my opinion, is the day when “Pravda” newspaper published his story “Me and my flock”. This was ten years ago. After that publication Alexander immediately entered the first line of fighters in a merry, turbulent and explosive guild. Today the same “Pravda”, as well as “Crocodile”, “The Literature Newspaper”, “Youth” and “Soviet Culture”, among other publishers and Radio and TV editors, are happy to use his sharp and truly funny material.
deputy of chief editor of “Crocodile” magazine, Moscow
Review on first edition of “Teza from our block”
This is the first novel by Alexander Kanevsky, author of many short stories collections, and over a dozen plays and movie-scripts. No doubt, this is a successful debut. The novel reads with one breath, without intermissions, it’s written tightly and expressively, with bright humor and touching sadness, as it spreads over more than thirty post-war years. The author is fond of his characters, he feels for them and commiserates with them, but that doesn’t keep him from caricaturizing them, treating them with irony.
The strongest feature of this book – is the organic merge of comedy and tragedy, the funny and the sad are always near, and this enhances the emotional perception. Though the story sets in the not-so-far past, it’s still very relevant, and frankly, even more relevant today than ever: internationalism versus nationalism, Man and Country, the pain and the tragedy of immigration… it’s all in the air, it resonates even louder in our times of openness. The author doesn’t try to avoid candid discussion of our most painful and unresolved issues, he lets the reader to figure things out for himself, without lecturing on moral or passing out wise advice – he writes for wise and sensible readers, who think with their heart.
Sergey Baruzdin, writer,
chief editor of “October” magazine, Moscow
When laughter and tears are inseparable…
(On autobiographic novel “Laugh, clown!’ by A. Kanevsky)
I was lucky to be the first to hear Alexander Kanevsky read out chapters of his new book of memoires. I listened with fascination, – and laughed, hysterically at times, and fought tears at other times. Once again I’ve got proof, that sadness and happiness don’t always reside on different streets, but live as neighbors, alternating with each other.
Alexander Kanevsky is a master of many genres: he’s a prosaic and a poet, a dramaturge and a screenwriter, a humorist and a satiric… All of these gifts conjoined to tell the truth of the different époques the author lived and created in.
Alexander Kanevsky is perfectly individualistic… He resembles himself alone. I’ve read many memoires, where authors eagerly describe their own selves, – all is just perfect!.. Alexander Kanevsky is not one of them! This is why his book is sincere, sometimes shockingly revealing, and even confessional. In my opinion, it’s the most honest portrait of the author’s life path – with no coquette shyness, no phony humility, but also without concealing things that a less courageous memoire-writer would tend to keep to himself.
Parts of this book are stirringly sad, they make your heart wring with compassion. “The clown” doesn’t just laugh, he cries as well. And he allows us to learn from the lessons of his unusual and highly-creative life. I truly envy those, who will have their first encounter with this book by Alexander Kanevsky. Laugh, Clown! Cry and be merry! Bring your reader your joy! I have no doubt that it will be so!
Anatoliy Alexin, writer,
laureate of many State Awards of Russia and International awards.
A sad smile (fragment from critique)
Alexander Kanevsky, this dark and handsome elegant man, is always ironic and a little bit sad… The craft of comedy writing is one of the hardest and darkest professions, since people always expect of the comedy writer to give them “something special”, to make them laugh, just like a clown. Well, Alexander Kanevsky never disappoints his readers and his audience; he carries his comedy cross with dignity and stoicism. I’ve witnessed how during even the most desperately boring and heavy as concrete meetings, there were bursts of lively laughter once A. Kanevsky took the stand.
His jokes are always elegant; they possess a certain element of wonder: how come, why does this wonderful world of nature and human beings has so much evil? These unpleasant defects, evils, lies, dissimulations create the pathos of A. Kanevsky’s work – from a miniature aphorism to a screenplay of a full-featured film, from a humoristic short story to a tragicomic novel…
Alexander Kanevsky graduated from Kiev Road Engineering Institute. Luckily, he built no roads or highways, since with his inclination to paradoxes, – who knows where would lead such engineering-humoristic creations? Yet Kanevsky the writer has built another road – a wonderful road of laughter and kindness, which leads directly to our hearts.
Yuri Scherbak, writer, diplomat,
Ambassador of Ukraine to USA and Canada
A review on “Hello, I can see you!” short stories collection
Those who had the pleasure to attend Alexander Kanevsky’s stage venues could fully experience the truly diabolic power of this man’s temperament. First 15-20 minutes you are in a complete spell, you are under a downpour of jokes, gags, cunning verbal provocations, the audience is being rocked and tossed like on a ship caught in a storm, from one side-splitting burst of laughter to the next. You don’t even notice how you get swept in: some jokes might not work in a different, more tranquil setting, but right now they hit the spot. The talent actively conquers.
For a wide circle of his readers, as well as for potential producers of his plays, performers of his stories and monologues, the publishing of this book is an event. This writer is known, he is popular and he is loved. He is published by the most prominent of our printed media channels, such as “”Pravda”, “Soviet Culture”, “Literature Newspaper”; “Youth”, “Ogoniok” and “Crocodile” magazines… Movies, theater and vaudeville, radio and television, puppet shows and animation – he’s into it all, and he does it all easily, merrily, sincerely, and once more – with much temperament.
So what is the nature of the satiric temperament of the author under review? First and foremost – it’s social, civic, journalistic: no, this is not Mayakovski, but through different tones, different appearance, there is something of Mayakovski’s tradition, such as the desire to treat certain topics with monstrous generalization. He is very versatile – there are moments of anger, along with the lightness off “simple laughter”, one that contributes to your health and inspires to be optimistic, and there is also some humor with very sad eyes… He manages to always stay communicative, constantly building strong bridges to those he writes for. And he writes for his closest friends. But since he recruits close friends on the spot, their number is great.
Yuri Smirnov- Nesvitzky, doctor of art history, professor,
head of Critique department at the Institute of Theater,
Film and Music in St. Petersburg, Russia
The CACADU Theater in flight
In Israel, just like in Stanislavsky’s times, theater does not start at the wardrobe, it starts with an enthusiast. Just like Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko were the origins of the Moscow Art Theatre, Alexander Kanevsky is the origin of Cacadu Comedy Theatre.
Alexander Kanevsky must have discovered the secret of perpetual motion. He came to Israel fifteen years ago, looked around and got really surprised: what a strange country. Jewish humor is so popular throughout the world, yet here there are no humor magazines, no comedy theaters. So he founded the Humor Center in Tel-Aviv, which was truly a center of humor. Then he created the humor magazines for grownups and kids “Balagan” and “Balagasha”… then came the “Nepravda” newspaper and Festivals of Humor… It was he who forced (yes, forced, he is a true dictator!) all of us to laugh at times when it felt there is nothing funny. So I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard that Kanevsky is creating a Comedy theater in Israel. I was unsurprised to learn that he succeeded in his endeavor and named his theater “Cacadu”. And I was again unsurprised when its first production of a play by the founder titled “The Great Liar” played 20 times in two months, all sold-out, which is practically unheard of in Russian-speaking Israeli community.
I was finally surprised when just two months after their first premiere the Cacadu Theater released their second production, also based on a play by A. Kanevsky, called “Double Bed for Sail”, and it is currently successfully touring Israel.
The guarantee of this theater’s future success is in the quality of the material… The comedy of Cacadu Theater is as intelligent as its audience.
Lev Avinais, journalist,
“Globus” newspaper, Israel, 2005