A Terrible Country

A Terrible Country

by Keith Gessen


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“A cause for celebration: big-hearted, witty, warm, compulsively readable, earnest, funny, full of that kind of joyful sadness I associate with Russia and its writers.” —George Saunders, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo

A literary triumph about Russia, family, love, and loyalty—the first novel in ten years from a founding editor of n+1 and author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

When Andrei Kaplan’s older brother Dima insists that Andrei return to Moscow to care for their ailing grandmother, Andrei must take stock of his life in New York. His girlfriend has stopped returning his text messages. His dissertation adviser is dubious about his job prospects. It’s the summer of 2008, and his bank account is running dangerously low. Perhaps a few months in Moscow are just what he needs. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn, packs up his hockey stuff, and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother, a woman who has outlived her husband and most of her friends. She survived the dark days of communism and witnessed Russia’s violent capitalist transformation, during which she lost her beloved dacha. She welcomes Andrei into her home, even if she can’t always remember who he is.

Andrei learns to navigate Putin’s Moscow, still the city of his birth, but with more expensive coffee. He looks after his elderly—but surprisingly sharp!—grandmother, finds a place to play hockey, a café to send emails, and eventually some friends, including a beautiful young activist named Yulia. Over the course of the year, his grandmother’s health declines and his feelings of dislocation from both Russia and America deepen. Andrei knows he must reckon with his future and make choices that will determine his life and fate. When he becomes entangled with a group of leftists, Andrei’s politics and his allegiances are tested, and he is forced to come to terms with the Russian society he was born into and the American one he has enjoyed since he was a kid.

A wise, sensitive novel about Russia, exile, family, love, history and fate, A Terrible County asks what you owe the place you were born, and what it owes you. Writing with grace and humor, Keith Gessen gives us a brilliant and mature novel that is sure to mark him as one of the most talented novelists of his generation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735221314
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 71,438
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Keith Gessen is the author of All the Sad Young Literary Men and a founding editor of n+1. He is the editor of three nonfiction books and the translator or co-translator, from Russian, of a collection of short stories, a book of poems, and a work of oral history, Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl. A contributor to The New Yorker and The London Review of Books, Gessen teaches journalism at Columbia and lives in New York with his wife and son.

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Excerpted from "A Terrible Country"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Keith Gessen.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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A Terrible Country: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read this year. Warm and funny and real. Seeing Russia through the main character's eyes (and those of his 89 year old grandmother, new friends, and romantic relationship) gave me my first glimmer of an understanding of the complexity of life in Russia. The main character keeps learning and takes us along on his journey. I intend to recommend it to all my friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On my way to Russia. A perfect read about a small slice of Russian life in Moscow today. I deepened my understanding of the repressive Putin regime and the almost insurmountable challenges of those who resist.
JennieR More than 1 year ago
The description of the book is very accurate. I really enjoyed the interactions between Andrei and his grandmother. Andrei’s, sometimes I think, unrealized reactions to his grandmother’s life and her up front and straight opinion on subjects was well done and intriguing. The subplot of hockey and college life of the teaching staff made the story well rounded and even more enjoyable. The view of what life is like for the average citizen of Russia, gave the reader some great insight into the culture of the country.