The Fatal Eggs

Mikhail Bulgakov

It’s been many years since I last re-read The Master and Margarita… [I believe this link is for the Michael Glenny translation — there’s some debate as to the best one… I own the Burgin/Tiernan O’Connor, but I’ve heard some people like the Mirra Ginsberg even though that is a translation of the censored version of the book.] …and I’d been thinking of reading a different translation for a while when I saw this little book at the library.

This one is more science fiction than magical realism, but it’s equally hilarious and allegorical. A socially cranky professor in Moscow accidentally discovers a light ray that seems to accelerate the growth of cells under its light around the same time all the chickens in the city mysteriously die in a sudden epidemic. This inspires the creation of a State Farm to use the ray to solve the sudden disappearance of chickens, but a delivery mix-up leads the whole effort astray. My favorite part is the occasional newsboy yelling out the headlines: every major news story is described as a nightmare (“Nightmare murder on Bronnaya Street !!”).