The tenants of a post-Soviet slum face the absurdity of Russian life in this Flannery O’Connor Award–winning debut novel “of startling redemptive beauty” (TheNew York Times Book Review).
In a crumbling apartment building in post-Soviet Russia, there’s a ghost who won’t keep quiet.
Mircha fell from the roof and was never properly buried, so he sticks around to heckle the living: his wife, Azade; Olga, a disillusioned translator/censor for a military newspaper; Yuri, an army veteran who always wears an aviator’s helmet; and Tanya.
Tanya carries a notebook wherever she goes, recording her observations and her dreams of finding love and escaping her job at the All-Russia All-Cosmopolitan Museum, a place which holds a fantastic and terrible collection of art knockoffs created using the tools at hand, from foam to chewing gum, Popsicle sticks to tomato juice. When the museum’s director hears of a mysterious American group seeking to fund art in Russia, it looks like she might get her chance at a better life, if she can only convince them of the collection’s worth. Enlisting the help of Azade, Olga, and even Mircha, Tanya scrambles to save her dreams and her neighbors, and along the way discovers that love may have been waiting in her own courtyard all along.
This is a “delightful” novel by an author who has won two Oregon Book Awards and the Raymond Carver Prize, among other literary honors (Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
“A crazy adventure of the imagination . . . [that] has echoes of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated, Gary Shteyngart’s laugh-out-loud Absurdistan and Olga Grushin’s more romantic The Dream Life of Sukhanov.” —The Observer (UK)
About the author
Gina Ochsner is the author of two collections of short stories, People I Wanted to Be and The Necessary Grace to Fall, both of which won the Oregon Book Award, and a novel, The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Ochsner is a recipient of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the William Faulkner Prize, an NEA grant, a Guggenheim, and the Raymond Carver Prize. She lives in Oregon.
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