In this imaginary biography, Petras Cvirka follows every detail of Pranas Krukelis’s transformation from a barefoot Lithuanian village boy with a dead-ringer imitation of a squealing pig to the American businessman Frank Kruk, proprietor of a Brooklyn funeral parlor. On the way, Cvirka slings satire and slapstick in all directions, at just about every aspect of Lithuanian life and the immigrant experience in America. Think of something like a cross between Sinclair Lewis and Stella Gibbons. A classic of Lithuanian literature first published in 1934, the book has previously been translated into Russian, Czech, Latvian, and Estonian. This is its first English translation.
About the Author
Petras Cvirka was born in 1909 in the village of Klangiai, not far from Kaunas, Lithuania, into a poor farming family. He first studied at an art school in Kaunas before heading to France to study French language and literature. He published a collection of poems at the age of 19, and his first novel, Frank Kruk (1934), at 25. In the twelve years remaining to him, he produced two more novels, six short story collections, several books for children, and numerous newspaper articles. He was a founder of the journal of the left-wing group “The Third Front” and one of its leading members. In 1940, he was accepted into the Communist Party and selected a deputy of the Lithuanian Supreme Council. From 1940 to 1942, he was the director of the organizing committee of the Lithuanian Soviet Writers’ Union, serving as its chairman from 1944 on. He was extremely active in promoting translations of Lithuanian literature into Russian and other languages and wrote regularly for Soviet newspapers as well as Lithuanian ones. He died in 1947, and was widely lionized in Soviet Lithuania; there was a postage stamp was issued in honor of his 50th birthday in 1959 (he hadn’t lived to see his 40th), a documentary film, scholarly monographs, numerous editions of his works, and translations into many languages all over the Soviet Empire.