Babel, Hyper-realist

Many weighty tomes have been written about early 20th-century Eastern Europe — its wars, revolutions, ethnic conflicts — but Isaac Babel catalogs these inexhaustible histories in a few short pages. His compact stories, which capture the essence of a vast array of characters and settings, always give me vertigo. We see a similar vertigo effect take hold of Isaac Babel’s grandson, Andrei Malaev-Babel, in David Novack’s documentary Finding Babel.