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Posted October 21, 2011
Posted June 23, 2010
A fun, dark, complex, and comical look at Russian life with a speculative twist.
Synopsis: Within a current day setting in Russia, with all its difficult economics and "shell shocked" population, a number of diverse individuals relay their lives via an omnipresent narrator in separate yet interrelated chapters. They all live in the same dilapidated building where the plumbing has been non existent for several months. They are coping, but it seems there is nothing they can do about the situation. Most significantly the group experiences a death of one of their fellow residents via suicide. Because the "dead guy" is not buried properly in contravention of the demands of his Muslim tradition, he haunts the others with hilarious, heart wrenching, and smelly results.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Layered within this story are the difficult and sadly comical experiences of each of the individuals. Each leading lives with a shared, conflicted yet accepting, desperation. All with differing perspectives due to varying ethnicity, age, and gender. Each are both thoughtful and dark.
As the characters are developed, the story starts to revolve around several American museum facilitators of "Russian Extraction" who will visit and determine if they are to help the Russian group and their local "handmade" museum. It is a promise of a monetary donation, but as the residents try to meet the Americans' exacting standards and try and plan out a reasonable way of showing the donators that their museum is worthy of support, that they lead normal and sane lives, havoc ensues.
My Thoughts: The above description of this book unjustly simplifies it, since there is so much more complexity within the book than can be described within three paragraphs. There were so may wonderful examples of complex and unusual word usage. I found myself laughing and amazed. The most fun aspect of the book is the way that the author seamlessly incorporates folktales, knowledge and tradition from each of the respective religious backgrounds. "Magical realism" melded with the reality of life - heartbreaking yet hopeful. The book is a linguistic mix of metaphor and imagery.
I give this story 4.5 stars!
Posted March 27, 2010
I discovered a Jewel!
I found everything about this book to be captivating. The cover caught my attention. The artwork is wonderful and perfect for the story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I lived and traveled in and out of Moscow for 3 years and observed the life around me, without fully understanding it and the culture. Gina Ochsner is a wonderful writer and drew me into the story. I gained so much insight into the life I had witnessed and wondered if Ochsner herself had lived in or visited Russia. I could not put the book down and will read it a second time. I am looking forward to reading more of Oshsner's work. She brings the characters to life, giving them each a distinct personality and role. I felt like I had seen all of them in Russia. The highly educated masses barely making a living, the glue sniffing orphan's on the street, the communal living arrangement, and the restless ghosts that still haunted the living. I could even see the wealthy American philanthropist, who came to Russia with a preconceived concept of Russia, only to find a situation she could not comprehend. If you have any interest in Russia at all, then I highly recommend this book, and if you don't, it it still an excellent piece of writing.