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What Happened to Anna K.

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What Happened to Anna K. Cover

ISBN13: 9781416558934
ISBN10: 1416558934
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A mesmerizing debut novel that reimagines Tolstoy's classic tragedy, Anna Karenina, for our time

Vivacious thirty-seven-year-old Anna K. is comfortably married to Alex, an older, prominent businessman from her tight-knit Russian-Jewish immigrant community in Queens. But a longing for freedom is reignited in this bookish, overly romantic, and imperious woman when she meets her cousin Katia Zavurov's boyfriend, an outsider and aspiring young writer on whom she pins her hopes for escape. As they begin a reckless affair, Anna enters into a tailspin that alienates her from her husband, family, and entire world.

In nearby Rego Park's Bukharian-Jewish community, twenty-seven-year-old pharmacist Lev Gavrilov harbors two secret passions: French movies and the lovely Katia. Lev's restless longing to test the boundaries of his sheltered life powerfully collides with Anna's. But will Lev's quest result in life's affirmation rather than its destruction?

Exploring struggles of identity, fidelity, and community, What Happened to Anna K. is a remarkable retelling of the Anna Karenina story brought vividly to life by an exciting young writer.

Review:

"Set among early 21st-century Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City, Reyn's debut beautifully adapts Anna Karenina's social melodrama for a decidedly different set of Russians. Anna, 30-something with a string of bad relationships behind her and a restless, literarily inclined soul, is wooed into marriage by the financial stability and social appropriateness of Alex K., an older businessman with roots in her Rego Park, Queens, community. As Anna chafes at her unromantic life, trouble hits in the form of David, the hipster-writer boyfriend of her sweet, nave cousin, Katia. The furiously flying sparks between Anna and David provide cover as Katia is quietly pursued by Lev, a young Bukharan Jew who, like Anna, is a dreamer whose relationship with the migr community is fraught. Reyn's Anna is perhaps even harder to sympathize with than Tolstoy's original, but Reyn's sparkling insight into the Russian and Bukharan Jewish communities, and the mesmerizing intensity of her prose, make this debut a worthy remake. Lev's and Anna's divergent trajectories and choices illuminate how perilous the balance between self and society remains." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

Irina Reyn is a fiction and nonfiction writer who divides her time between Pittsburgh and Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in anthologies and publications such as The Forward, San Francisco Chronicle, The Moscow Times, Nextbook and Post Road. Born in Moscow, Irina was raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

OneMansView, January 4, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Anna K. loses her way (4.25*s)

This is a book about the subtle, yet unrelenting, pressures placed on those living in clearly distinguished ethnic communities to conform to basic ways of thinking and doing things, generally with few changes across generations. Nowhere is this pressure greater than on the selection of marital partners; delaying marriage or looking outside the community are not well received often with lasting consequences.

Anna, a Russian-Jewish immigrant in NYC, is thirty-something, unmarried, and not enamored of her community’s folkways and gauche materialism. A girl of striking beauty, she has always held herself apart with vague romantic ideas of finding a mate who will enable her to transcend her prosaic, ethnic life. However, worried about her advancing years, Anna settles on marrying Alex K, a well-to-do Jewish businessman twenty years older than her, and having a child. That could be the end of the story, but Anna’s dissatisfactions are only briefly delayed.

The author integrates other characters into Anna’s orbit: Katia, her younger first cousin, David, the non-Jewish professor boyfriend of Katia, and Lev, a younger man who is a pharmacist and a lover of foreign films. Their differing interactions with Anna more fully illustrate her discontent and increasingly extreme behavior as well as providing contrasting sensible alternatives for others struggling with belonging, identity, realities, etc.

Anna may not be the most sympathetic of characters given her self-centeredness, fantasies, and somewhat predatory behavior. Nonetheless, the book is a very well written and interesting account of people situated within a certain social context attempting to find happiness. The social milieu is certainly considered for its ability to be supportive or overly harsh in its judgments against deviations. Some finally adjust and conform, while others lose their way perhaps never to recover.

Having read Anna Karenina is completely unnecessary for appreciating this book. It stands on its own. The book does have its Russianisms – language, customs, etc, but not to the point of distraction.
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nickadams, November 12, 2008 (view all comments by nickadams)
Reyn's new-age take on Tolstoy's masterpiece is a bland rendition which would otherwise be worthy of mediocre review if it were not for the literary namedrop. Anna is portrayed as a flighty, confused, conflicted individual yet seems void of any true personality, making it nearly impossible to connect or understand Anna as a character. Reyn even managed to drain the philosophical, existential, and theological intra-personal conflict from Lev's storyline. Perhaps Tolstoy's finest written character, Lev has been reduced to a trivial role. In essence, Anna is too detached and Lev too approachable for the reader to relate or respect.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416558934
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Reyn, Irina
Publisher:
Touchstone
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Man-woman relationships
Subject:
Russian Americans
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20080812
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.25 in

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

What Happened to Anna K. Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Touchstone Books - English 9781416558934 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Set among early 21st-century Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City, Reyn's debut beautifully adapts Anna Karenina's social melodrama for a decidedly different set of Russians. Anna, 30-something with a string of bad relationships behind her and a restless, literarily inclined soul, is wooed into marriage by the financial stability and social appropriateness of Alex K., an older businessman with roots in her Rego Park, Queens, community. As Anna chafes at her unromantic life, trouble hits in the form of David, the hipster-writer boyfriend of her sweet, nave cousin, Katia. The furiously flying sparks between Anna and David provide cover as Katia is quietly pursued by Lev, a young Bukharan Jew who, like Anna, is a dreamer whose relationship with the migr community is fraught. Reyn's Anna is perhaps even harder to sympathize with than Tolstoy's original, but Reyn's sparkling insight into the Russian and Bukharan Jewish communities, and the mesmerizing intensity of her prose, make this debut a worthy remake. Lev's and Anna's divergent trajectories and choices illuminate how perilous the balance between self and society remains." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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