Synopses & Reviews
Love stories, with a twist: the eagerly awaited follow-up to the great Russian writer’s New York Times
bestselling scary fairy tales.
By turns sly and sweet, burlesque and heartbreaking, these realist fables of women looking for love are the stories that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya — who has been compared to Chekhov, Tolstoy, Beckett, Poe, Angela Carter, and even Stephen King — is best known for in Russia.
Here are attempts at human connection, both depraved and sublime, by people across the life span: one-night stands in communal apartments, poignantly awkward couplings, office trysts, schoolgirl crushes, elopements, tentative courtships, and rampant infidelity, shot through with lurid violence, romantic illusion, and surprising tenderness. With the satirical eye of Cindy Sherman, Petrushevskaya blends macabre spectacle with transformative moments of grace and shows just why she is Russia’s preeminent contemporary fiction writer.
"Full of meaningful, finely crafted detail, this story collection set in Russia manages to tackle the grimmest of situations head-on with compassion and a great deal of warmth. In 'Two Deities' a one-night stand between a woman in her mid-30s and a man of 20 results in pregnancy and the decision to raise the child together. The troubled 'Alibaba' sells her mother's rare books to get money for drinks and longs to find a man who doesn't live with his mother or wife, so that she might stay the night. In 'Tamara's Baby' a man named 'A.A.' who makes life miserable for his friends by always dropping by unannounced finds contentment with an older woman he meets at a health resort for the indigent. Dasha, in 'The Impulse,' shaves her head and ignores her son, who subsists on a diet of ice cream and frozen pizza, because of the stress of her relationship with a married man. The author does a wonderful job evoking the world of shared apartments and heavy drinking, where to get from a village to the capital 'one had to ride the train for seven days, then a bus for thirty-six hours, then another bus, which sometimes didn't run, for seven more.' However cruel the characters are to each other and to themselves, the author is always fair, broadminded, and even loving toward them, making this book both supremely gritty and realistically life-affirming." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Deeply unromantic love stories told frankly, with an elasticity and economy of language...dark, fatalistic humor and bone-deep irony." The New York Times Book Review
"This gem's exquisite conjugation of doom and disconnect is so depressingly convincing that I laughed out loud....On par with the work of such horror maestros as Edgar Allan Poe." Elle
"Petrushevskaya writes instant classics....These, as the title proclaims, are love stories, scored to a totalitarian track that makes the mystery of love ever more murky." The Daily Beast
"Combines the brevity of Lydia Davis with the familial strangleholds of Chekhov. They're short and brutal, but often elegant in their economy." The Onion A.V. Club
"Heartbreaking, but...also beautiful and touching in describing how, if not love, at least companionship, can save the most lost souls." The Rumpus
"Think Chekhov writing from a female perspective....Petrushevskaya's short stories transform the mundane into the near surreal, pausing only to wink at the absurdity of it all." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya has published stories in the New Yorker
, Harper's Magazine
, and n + 1
. Born in 1938, she is one of Russia's most celebrated contemporary authors. She lives in Moscow.
Anna Summers is the coeditor and co-translator of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby and the literary editor of the Baffler. Born in Moscow, she now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.