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A detailed imagining of a three-month window in the life of Soviet short-story writer Isaac Babel, Robert A. Rosenstone’s King of Odessa plays games with fiction and biographical fact. In Rosenstone’s telling, based very loosely on Babel’s letters, the author returns from Moscow to his hometown of Odessa in 1936 and, between reminiscences on a life of pogroms, revolution, and philandering, involves himself in a Kremlin plot that could earn him a trip to see his beloved daughter in Paris. Writing in a terse diary format, Rosenstone paints a picture of a novelist with worries far heavier than an impending book-signing tour. For a biographer of Rosenstone’s ilk—his life of John Reed was the basis for the film Reds—filling fiction into the undocumented gaps of a major literary figure’s life must be a lot of fun. And his approach to the potentially bleak subject matter offers a little bit of fun for the reader, too. Rosenstone reads at 5 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Dave Jamieson)