Self-Published Title Pick: You’ve Got Grave Issues by Nilufar Sharipova

You’ve Got Grave Issues is a collection of short, humorous stories unified by a single theme: everyday life in the cemetery. The events described take place in the Soviet and early post-Soviet period. The stories are observations of people whose lives are inextricably linked to the cemetery. They work, live, and pray there. Every single day of their lives is spent next to someone else’s death. But despite this mournful setting, they are constantly getting themselves into comical situations. The book’s serious themes of death, faith, and love are leavened with elements of irony and the absurd. Certain stories were inspired by real events. Among the characters we find a principled journalist who finds freedom begging at the cemetery gates; an accomplished scientist whose true calling is service to God; an enterprising fortune-teller who uses gravestones in her rituals for the matrimonially inclined; a devoted daughter who continues an ongoing dialogue with her departed mother; and more.

Nilufar Sharipova, author of You’ve Got Grave Issues, was born in a country that’s no longer on the map—the Soviet Union—into a family of journalists and cemetery workers. This odd combination is largely responsible for determining Sharipova’s subject matter: short humorous tales about the life and times of a typical cemetery in the Soviet and early post-Soviet period.

In 2016, her fiction was short-listed for the Literature prize from the Open Eurasian Literature Festival and Book Forum. You can read “The Man You’ll Marry,” one of the stories from her collection, at (posted March 4, 2016).

Anne O. Fisher has translated Ilf and Petrov’s two novels The Little Golden Calf (Russian Life, 2009) and The Twelve Chairs (Northwestern University Press, 2011). She lives in Indiana with her husband, Derek Mong, poet and cotranslator of Maxim Amelin’s work.

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