PERSONAL: Born in Stavropol, USSR (now Russia); immigrated to United States, 1949; married (divorced); children: one son.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—c/o Author Mail, Akashic Books, P.O. Box 1456, New York, NY 10009.
Once There Was a Village (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1974.
Castle Dubrava (novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 1982.
Devil's Midnight (novel), Akashic Books (New York, NY), 2003.
ADAPTATIONS: Once There Was a Village was adapted as a documentary film by La Lutta New Media Collective.
SIDELIGHTS: Yuri Kapralov is an artist living and working in New York's East Village who has published several books based on his own personal history as well as that of his native land.
Once There Was a Village is Kapralov's memoir of living in New York's East Village during the 1960s, a time when this artistic community was overrun by an influx of hippies, drug addicts, prostitutes, and runaways. Kapralov had come to New York in 1949 after spending World War II in forced work on a German farm. He eventually drifted to the East Village to practice his art, constructing works of "junk sculpture" from discarded pianos and other items. His memoir traces his stormy marriage, his budding career, and his dealings with the often-violent newcomers to the neighborhood. As Deborah Batterman noted in the Library Journal, Kapralov "watched friends come and go; he watched his neighborhood deteriorate until owning an (outlawed) gun was more a necessity than a luxury." Kapralov's account of the time echoes the writings of earlier Russian immigrants; as a reviewer for Publishers Weekly observed, reading Kapralov's memoir "conjures up something of Gorki and Chagall." A Booklist contributor described Kapralov's book as a collection of "anecdotes transformed into exotica by his Slavic intensity," while a Kirkus reviewer dubbed Once There Was a Village "a disorganized, artless, but nonetheless moving book."
Kapralov turns from memoir to fiction with his novel Castle Dubrava, a vampire tale in which Sally Edmondson, an ad agency executive from New York, visits Romania to rekindle her relationship with an old lover. While there, she encounters Michea Basarab, a Nobel Prize-winning writer and vampire, and soon finds herself enmeshed in his secret and dangerous world. "Kapralov provides a very strong historical foundation for his tale," wrote Alan Ryan in the Washington Post Book World, adding that the author includes "a colorful and romantic flight of fancy at the end." "The reader is carried along by the plot, the retelling of old legends and the simple, seductive style," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly.
Kapralov draws on Russian history for his novel Devil's Midnight, the story of the last days of the Russian Revolution that started in 1917. By late 1919 the Red Army was mopping up the final remnants of resistance by the pro-Romanov White Russians against the new regime. Some of the incidents are based on the memories of Kapralov's own father, who lived through the turmoil. The story focuses on Yuri Skatchko, a colonel in the White Army fighting for the return of Czar Nicholas II, and Russian film star Nata Tai, addicted to cocaine and seeking revenge upon a group of cultists she blames for her father's death. Their love affair forms the core of an experimental novel told in multiple styles. "The story of the Russian Revolution has been told many times," Barbara Conaty noted in the Library Journal, "but perhaps never before from Kapralov's phantasmagoric vantage point."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1974, review of Once ThereWas a Village, pp. 69-70.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1974, review of OnceThere Was a Village, p. 345; August 15, 1982, review of Castle Dubrava, p. 952. March 15, 2003, review of Devil's Midnight, p. 419.
Library Journal, May 1, 1974, Deborah Batterman, review of Once There Was a Village, p. 1294; September 1, 1982, Martha Jones, review of Castle Dubrava, p. 1676; April 1, 2003, Barbara Conaty, review of Devil's Midnight, p. 129.
Publishers Weekly, April 22, 1974, review of OnceThere Was a Village, p. 68; September 17, 1982, review of Castle Dubrava, p. 98.
Washington Post Book World, October 31, 1982, Alan Ryan, review of Castle Dubrava, p. 11.
Blacklisted Journal,http://www.bigmagic.com/ (August 1, 2003), Joyce Metzger, review of Devil's Midnight.
Ink 19,http://www.ink19.com/ (May, 2003), Carl F. Gauze, review of Devil's Midnight.*