In this dazzling collection of stories from one of Russia’s most important writers, ordinary realities—and our yearnings to transcend them—lead to miraculous otherworlds. A woman’s deceased father appears in her dreams with clues about the afterlife. A man falls in love with a marble statue as his marriage falls apart. A child glimpses heaven through a stained-glass window.
Tolstaya’s tales—rendered with the emotional insight of Chekhov, the surreal satire of Gogol, and a unique blend of humor and poetry all her own—transmute the quotidian into aetherial wonders. As these stories explore politics, identity, love, and loss, they cut to the quick of the Russian psyche even as they lay bare human universals. Whether contemplating the intricacies of telegram delivery in Leningrad or the meditative melancholy of holiday aspic, Tolstaya limns the stark elements of existence and our vibrant inner lives in an extraordinary vision of life on earth.
Author: Tatyana Tolstaya lives in Moscow. For twelve years, she was the cohost of The School for Scandal, a popular talk show on Russian television covering culture and politics. She is also the cofounder of a creative writing academy in Moscow. She has written for The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. Five of her books, including her novel The Slynx, have been translated into English.
Translated by Anya Migdal.