In Reyn’s excellent exploration of the immigrant experience, a Ukrainian transplant to the United States grapples with the convoluted legacy of her home country. Once head bookkeeper at an important gas pipe factory in east Ukraine, Nadia Andreevna now nannies for a family in Brooklyn, navigating an unfamiliar land of artisanal mayonnaise and American parenting. Nadia had fled the politically destabilized country in 2008, aiming to send for her daughter, Larissa—detained due to a bureaucratic loophole—immediately. But six years have passed, and she spends her days writing pleading letters to senators and obsessively tracking news reports that document mounting violence in her home region. As Nadia resorts to increasingly extreme measures to reunite with her daughter—including scouting American suitors for Larissa at nightclubs—the narrative periodically flips back to Nadia’s raw, affecting life as a single mother in Ukraine, fighting to carve out an existence for herself and her daughter amid a rapidly changing country. When Larissa’s immigration suddenly looms closer, Nadia must reckon with how her memories of Larissa—whom she has not seen for seven years—abut against reality, and learn to forge her way in a culture that poses frequent affronts to her identity. In beautiful and emotionally perceptive prose, Reyn (The Imperial Wife) probes the intimate ways cultures clash within individuals, forcing them to knit together disparate truths to make sense of the world, and provides a tender depiction of how mother-daughter bonds morph over time and space. (Feb.)
"In Reyn’s excellent exploration of the immigrant experience... [she] probes the intimate ways cultures clash within individuals, forcing them to knit together disparate truths to make sense of the world, and provides a tender depiction of how mother-daughter bonds morph over time and space." - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Reyn has written a moving, contemporary look at the immigrant experience. Recommended.” -- Library Journal, Starred Review
"Reyn deftly spins a web of heartache and memory around Nadia's daily life. A compassionate portrait of a mother aching with regrets yet brave enough to fight for her family." -- Kirkus
"Reyn (The Imperial Wife, 2016) delivers an elegiac look at the rootlessness that accompanies immigration while also tenderly capturing long-distance mothering and the challenges that all parents face when letting go engenders a terrible sense of powerlessness." -- Booklist
“A modern portrait of America through the lens of the women it fails the most.” - Marie Claire
“Mother Country is a beautifully envisioned, morally urgent novel set at the disputed borderlands of a divided family and country. Irina Reyn is a superb chronicler of America, Ukraine, and all points between, resulting in a book of uncommon power and purpose." - Anthony Marra, New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno
"Beautifully written, wise, poignant, tender and filled with humor, Irina Reyn's novel Mother Country about mothers and daughters captured my heart from the very first page. Despite the heartbreaking urgency of this timely story, Mother Country is infused with hope, originality and most of all, love. A gorgeous book." - Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown
"In any given family, the relationship between mother and child is complicated and challenging. At any given moment, a sizable percentage of the world’s people are being forced to live through a war they didn’t start and are unlikely to benefit from. Put those two things together, and you have the backdrop for this powerful, painstakingly imagined, timely and timeless novel." - Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club
"Mother Country maps the emotional geography that forms between parents and children living in drastically different realities. Shifting between Ukraine and New York, Irina Reyn finds the moments of connection that transcend even the most complex of separations." - Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew and Ways to Disappear
“Heartbreaking and hopeful all at once, Irina Reyn’s Mother Country, is a dazzling story of a mother’s promise postponed, but never truly broken.” - Lynda Loigman, author of The Two-Family House
"What does it mean to leave a child to save her? A deep investigation into parenthood, identity, and immigration, Irina Reyn's captivating new novel, Mother Country follows a mother and daughter separated by war and trying to find their way back to each other. Weaving back and forth through time and between two countries, Nadia and Larisska’s feelings of betrayal and longing, attachment and fierce independence mirror the current violent conflict between the Ukraine and Russia. Reyn’s powerful narrative looks at motherhood through a fractured mirrorrevealing all the ways we deceive and sacrifice for our children, and all the ways we ache for forgiveness and love." - Hannah Tinti, award-winning author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley and The Good Thief
Six years ago, Nadia left her only daughter, Larisska, behind in war-torn Ukraine. Since then, she's tried to bring her daughter to America, but she fears the reunion may bring even more problems.
Back in Ukraine, Nadia worked as a bookkeeper for a pipe manufacturing company, a job that not only helped her pay the bills, but also brought a dashing midlevel manager, the technolog, into her orbit. One afternoon of illicit pleasure on his desk leads to Nadia's pregnancy, but the technolog has no intention of leaving his wife and daughter, so Nadia becomes a single mother. From birth, Larisska was anything but easy, refusing her own mother's milk but accepting the neighbor's. As tensions increase among western Ukrainians, separatists, and Russians, life in Nadia's neighborhood begins disintegrating, and soon the pipe company is paying its employees in mandarin oranges, good for selling on the black market but not so good for diabetic Larisska. Once the technolog reveals that the company is closing, Nadia and Larisska's application to leave Ukraine becomes even more urgent, but when their names finally reach the top of the list, 21-year-old Larisska has aged out, and Nadia chooses to go to America alone.. Devastated by her mother's decision, Larisska rarely even Skypes or texts with Nadia. One night, however, Nadia's friends convince her to go clubbing, and she concocts a scheme to get Larisska a green card—a scheme that will upturn Nadia's own life and perhaps bring a bit of romance into it. Reyn (The Imperial Wife, 2016) deftly spins a web of heartache and memory around Nadia's daily life. As she tries to handle the outrageous behavior of American toddlers and elderly Russian men with access to Viagra, her thoughts continually turn to her homeland.
A compassionate portrait of a mother aching with regrets yet brave enough to fight for her family.