Post­ed by Dani Crickman

As inter­na­tion­al as the Jerusalem Book Fair is, I cer­tain­ly wasn’t expect­ing to have a Russ­ian man ask me 「どこに住んでいますか?」 (“doko ni sunde ima­su ka?” –Japan­ese for where do you live?”)

Ilya Pushkin, a 54-year-old med­ical doc­tor from Rus­sia, moved to Israel and was over­whelmed by cul­ture shock. A soft-spo­ken man, he had trou­ble adjust­ing to a cul­ture with few­er bound­aries between peo­ple and less pri­va­cy. He came to find solace in all things Japan­ese, immers­ing him­self in the study of the lan­guage and devel­op­ing a deep love for the cul­ture. Pushkin has writ­ten poet­ry since child­hood in his native Russ­ian, but for the last sev­en years he has been writ­ing in Japan­ese. He finds the Japan­ese language’s writ­ten sym­bols inspir­ing and val­ues the Japan­ese empha­sis on the secret and mys­te­ri­ous – espe­cial­ly in women. He rec­og­nizes that the Japan he cre­ates for him­self and explores in his writ­ing is an ide­al world, filled with his idea of ide­al women, and is not reflec­tive of the real coun­try and its peo­ple. Yet the fan­ta­sy gives him com­fort and has enabled him to pro­duce sto­ries and poems char­ac­ter­ized by sim­plis­tic beauty.

Pushkin’s books were avail­able in print for the first time at the book fair and are not wide­ly avail­able for pur­chase. How­ev­er, pdfs of his work, trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish, Hebrew, Russ­ian, and French, can be down­loaded from his web­site:www​.pushkin​-japan​.com

From The Poems of the Bear in Love:


Just as a chop­stick
can do noth­ing alone,
so I am noth­ing
with­out you.




Today you made a mis­take
when, instead of rice,
you laid your kiss­es
in my sand­wich box.

Because of your charm­ing mis­take
my heart over­flows with your love,
but my stom­ach is empty.