I sometimes wondered if the Russian authors thought of all the myriad things for which Mr Saunders gives them credit, or if Saunders brilliance adds some of the luster.
Either way, I loved this passage (Russian skaz: story has an unreliable first-person narrator):
“If you’ve ever wondered, as I have, ‘Given how generally sweet people are, why is the world so fucked up?’ Gogol has an answer: we each have an energetic and unique skaz loop running in our heads, one we believe in fully, not as ‘merely my opinion’ but ‘the way things actually are, for sure’.
The entire drama of life on earth is Skaz-Headed Person #1 steps outside, where he encounters Skaz-Headed Person #2. Both, seeing themselves as the center of the universe, thinking highly of themselves, immediately misunderstand everything. They try to communicate but aren’t any good at it.