The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi

Author(s): Eugene Ostashevsky

Poetry / Plays

The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi is a poem-novel about the relationship between a pirate and a parrot who, after capturing a certain quantity of prizes, are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they proceed to discuss whether they would have been able to make themselves understood by people indigenous to the island, had there been any. Eugene Ostashevsky's first large-scale project since The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, this new book pursues the themes of emigration, incomprehension, and the otherness of others in a far more complicated and persistent way than its predecessor. Characterized by multilingual punning, humor puerile and set-theoretic, philosophical irony, and narratological handicaps, The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi draws on early-modern texts about pirates and animal intelligence, 1960s Russian folklore, old-school hip-hop, game theory, controversies of copyright, and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, abbreviated as PI.


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An original collection from one of the most active poets in contemporary literature.

"The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi deals with the fundamental inability of language as means of expression, utilising a lively and irreverent sense of humour in making the most complex of subjects accessible and familiar with a clarity and irony which warms and disconcerts simultaneously. There is a lyric and musical quality to his poetry informed by the traditions of jazz, early New York Music Hall comedy and the pirating life." Eve Richens, The Quietus"

Eugene Ostashevsky is the author of the poetry collections The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza and Iterature, both published by Ugly Duckling Presse. He is the editor of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, and the editor and translator of Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets), winner of the ALTA National Translation Award. Ostashevsky teaches in the Liberal Studies program at New York University.

General Fields

  • : 9781681370903
  • : The New York Review of Books, Inc
  • : The New York Review of Books, Inc
  • : 0.368
  • : March 2017
  • : United States
  • : March 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Eugene Ostashevsky
  • : Paperback
  • : Main
  • : 811.54
  • : 128