Thursday, February 01, 2007

Petropolis by Anya Ulinich

An ambitious first novel, this is an odd but engaging tale told with the black humor typical of Russian literature. Sasha Goldberg, a black, Jewish Russian girl (!) from the town of Asbestos 2(!!) goes in search of the father that abandoned her and her self-possessed mother when she was a small child. The long road takes her from the weird post-Soviet Russia to being a mail-order bride in Arizona to being the pet Soviet refusenik of a wealthy philanthropic couple in Chicago. It is a sprawling piece of work that never loses a certain tension but can also provide a good laugh and a hard look at how people cope.

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