People are on the move in all ten stories in this collection—coming home as in The Return, leaving home as in Rubbish Wind, traveling far away from their country as in The Locks of Epiphan—trying to improve their lives and those of others, searching and fleeing. Their journeys are accompanied by two motives, which characterize the writing of Andrey Platonov: optimism and faith in the goodness of humanity, and abject despair at the cruelty and apparent senselessness of our existence. The protagonists are torn between these poles and sometimes a synthesis shines through the blackness of despair—the hope against hope that a better life is still possible. Combining realism with poetic vision and the deceptively simple language of folktales, Platonov lights up his stories by using language in a way that renders it unfamiliar, making the ordinary seem unusual and the extraordinary logical. This new translation is the first to present Platonov's gift as a short-story writer to an English-language readership, showing why it is that Joseph Brodsky regarded Platonov as the equal of Joyce, Kafka, and Proust.