Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

Catalog » Browse by Title: O » Once There Was a Village

Once There Was a Village


Kapralov’s work revolves around his years living and working as an artist in New York’s East Village in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

$12.00 $9.00 Not Currently Available – Check Back Soon!

What people are saying…

“This was the era which saw the ‘invasion’ of hippies and junkies and swarms of runaway boys and girls who became prey to pimps, tactical police and East Village violence . . . In this personal memoir of his experiences Kapralov relives the squalor and hazards of community life along Seventh Street between Avenues B and C. The street riots of 1966, the break-up of his own stormy marriage, poignant or amusing but always memorably etched stories of the Slavs, Russians, Puerto Ricans, blacks and artists young and old who were his neighbors, his own breakdown-all of it makes a ‘shtetl’ experience that conjures up something of Gorki and Chagall.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Once There Was a Village] is the authentic account of a period by a survivor . . . Kapralov’s background—and gifts as a writer—make him the right annalist for the East Village.”
The Village Voice

“Actually Kapralov is talking about two villages; the one in Russia where he was born and New York’s East Village where muggings were at one time so bad that returning vets said they felt safer in Vietnam.”
Kirkus Reviews


We regret to share the news that Yuri Kapralov (1933-2005), author of Devil’s Midnight and Once There Was A Village, passed away in September of 2005; click here to read Sarah Ferguson’s obituary. We miss Yuri very much — he was a fountain of life, passion, and creativity, and we were lucky to have published him.

Kapralov’s work revolves around his years living and working as an artist in New York’s East Village in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This isn’t the East Village of loud bars and chic eateries, rather, “the real East Village, east of Avenue B.” In this village, Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and an assortment of runaways, hippies, and junkies work, screw, smoke, drink, steal and kill in a palpably tense coexistence. Stalemate between order and chaos, peace and violence, is the subject of Once There Was a Village. From East Village riots to the German invasion of Russia during World War II, then back to the present for dreams of a pastoral future, Kapralov chooses not to use time as a means to organize events, instead ordering his story around the universal human experiences he witnesses: lost innocence, cynical cruelty, the suppression of the human spirit. As Kapralov chronicles the sad and slow deaths of his Slavic compatriots, the exploitation of the naive hippie runaways, the mechanical disintegration of the world in which he lives, his own mental deterioration begins.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 163 pages
  • Published: 7/1/00
  • IBSN: 9781888451054


YURI KAPRALOV was born in the Caucasus and came to the US in 1949. He lived in the East Village, New York City, from 1965 until he passed away in August 2005. He exhibited his visual art in New York and San Francisco, and was the author of Castle Dubrava (Dutton, 1982), a vampire novel; Devil’s Midnight; and Once There Was a Village (Akashic Books, 1988), a memoir of his experiences in the East Village in the late 1960s.

More info »