PPCC & UCCS Professor Translates Russian Book into English

By Devon Martinez | Staff Writer

Pavel Kozhevnikov has been teaching a combined Russian Language class with PPCC and UCCS students since 1992. He is also the author of four books written in Russian.

Last year, he translated his 2007 release, A Fist Full of Earth, to English after his students, friends, and family requested that he translate at least one of his stories. 

According to Kozhevnikov, translating books from their original language to English was the hardest process he has gone through as a writer.

The 87-page book tells two stories:

One is about a man named George Lebedikhin, who goes from being a prisoner in the USSR to a prizefighter in New York to a bank robber to a businessman in Hawaii. The character is loosely based on a man Kozhevnikov knew in the Soviet Union. He was such a strong man that, as Kozhevnikov said, “he could take on three men by himself.”

The second story, which takes place in the Soviet Union after WWII, is semi-autobiographical and about a beloved childhood dog. This story displays the toughness and love between a boy and his dog.

Kozhevnikov compares his storylines to American quilts because the stories are fictional, but the characters are based on real people and real historical backgrounds.

According to Kozhevnikov, A Fist Full of the Earth is about taking on the difficulties of life. The man and the dog in the first story tell a harrowing tale.

“In Russian, dirt and earth is the same,” said Kozhevnikov, “which means that both the dog and the human are made from the same fabric.”

Kozhevnikov gave the publishing company the right to reprint the book and instructed them to give all profit to low-income families.

Two years later, he visited Russia and was surprised by the number of letters sent to him from the people who benefited from his donation. One letter Kozhevnikov pointed out was from a single mother with a couple of kids who were extremely grateful for the help.

The book was popular in Russia, and according to Kozhevnikov, a famous Russian actor wanted to turn the story into a film but didn’t have the money needed for the project. The book was also on a shortlist for the prestigious Burlyaev’s Award in Russia. 

You can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dorrance Publishing