First published in installments between 1909 and 1915, Yama offers a portrait of life in a brothel located on the south coast of Russia (the model city is Odessa). The author's spokesman is jack-of-all-trades and sometime journalist named Platonov, who hangs out at the place and makes lots of little speeches. We see a college student try unsuccessfully to "rescue" a young prostitute, a white slaver who repeatedly marries young things from the provinces and then sells them off, the paperwork and bribery required by local officials. Toward the end the operation collapses, and one of its primary residents commits suicide which brings the narrative to the morgue. A messy, episodic book that nevertheless tells a gripping tale.
This report prepared by David Loftus