One More Year is Sana Krasikov’s extraordinary debut collection, illuminating the lives of immigrants from across the terrain of a collapsed Soviet Empire. With novelistic scope, Krasikov captures the fates of people–in search of love and prosperity–making their way in a world whose rules have changed.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.24(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.56(d)|
About the Author
Sana Krasikov’s debut short story collection, One More Year, released in 2008, first drew critical raves for its exploration of the lives of Russian and Georgian immigrants who had settled in the United States. It was later named a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Hemingway Award and The New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, received a National Book Foundation's "5 under 35" Award, and won the 2009 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. In these stories, which appeared first in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other magazines, one catches a glimpse of the new genuinely twenty-first century moment that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Praised for its unforgettable characters and impeccably crafted prose, the collection went on to be translated into a dozen languages. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "There are stories you read, absorb and think you've forgotten until you re-encounter them - when the world they've created blooms again to full size in memory, like a sponge dropped into water. So it is with Sana Krasikov's stories." Krasikov was born in the Ukraine and grew up in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and New York.
Read an Excerpt
Since she'd arrived in America and gotten divorced, Ilona Siegal had been set up three times. The first man was not an ordinary man but a Ph.D. from Moscow, the friend who'd arranged the date said. When Ilona opened her door, she'd found the Ph.D. standing on her front steps in a pair of paper-sheer yellow jogging shorts. He was thin, in the famished way of grazing animals and endurance athletes, with folds of skin around his kneecaps and wiry rabbit muscles braiding into his inner thighs. Under his arm he held what, in a moment of brief confusion, Ilona took for a wine bottle. But when he stepped inside she saw that it was only a liter of water he'd brought along for himself. Their plan had been to take a walk around a nearby park and then go out to lunch. But the Ph.D. had already been to the park. It wasn't anything special, he said. He'd just gone jogging there. He didn't like to miss his jogs, and since he'd driven an hour and a half out of his way to meet her he'd gotten in a run first. Ilona poured him a glass of grapefruit juice and listened to him talk about his work at Bell Labs. He reclined in his chair, his knees apart, unaware that one of his testicles was inching out of the inner lining of his shorts. Ilona stared at his face, trying not to look down.
The second man was American, somebody's co-worker, brought along to a party to meet her. He had graying red hair and his light lashes were coated with dandruff-like flakes. He took Ilona to an outdoor concert at the local community college. Afterward, she waited while he searched the cabinets of his kitchen, finally producing a tray of crackers and a dry triangle of Brie. All she remembered now of the man's small apartment was the blinding light of his empty refrigerator.
The last man was too young for her and obviously gay. He'd agreed to meet Ilona because he had the impression that she was an illegal who needed to marry to stay in the country. As soon as they sat down at an outdoor table at a cafe, the man told her that he wouldn't normally consider such an offer but his mother had fallen ill and he needed to pay for her treatment. Ilona nodded in sympathy and asked the young man to repeat himself more slowly. She understood that her case had been shoved so far into the recesses of her acquaintanceships that the people who now gave out her phone number no longer knew who she was or what she wanted.
It had not always been this way. There had been happier times, when she'd had both a husband and a lover; when she and her husband had thrown parties in their Tbilisi apartment that went late into the night, with longer and longer rounds of toasts and the smell of sweat and sharp cologne overpowering even the odor of cigarettes. Nothing fed Ilona's spirits more than the company of men. She loved the sound of their hoarse voices, the amateur authority with which they spoke about world affairs and other matters they had absolutely no effect on. But most of all she loved the flattering light of their attention. After the last female guest had said good night, and she had found herself in the thrilling half-susceptible state of being the only woman at the party, was when modesty came most easily to her. It lent coherence to her whole character, so that she could finally be her most humorous and disarming self. But all that had been a world ago and she tried to think about it as little as possible, now that she came home to an apartment that was not hers, and to a man who was neither a spouse nor a lover but who seemed to demand more of her than either possibly could.
"Have you met Thomaz?" Taia said. "He's outside."
"The Georgian?" Ilona went to the sink to rinse off her hands. "I hope you didn't invite him here for me." Her fingers were grainy with the watermelon she'd been slicing. She ran them under the tap and felt around on the counter for her rings.
"I didn't invite him at all. He came with the Gureviches."
"He's a bit young, no?" Ilona slipped on the bigger of the three rings first, a teardrop diamond in a five-prong setting.
"If you're comparing him with your roommate," said Taia, who almost never referred to Earl by name. "Don't lose those." She glanced down at the rings. "One day you'll take one off and it'll fall down a drain. Some women don't even wear the jewelry they own. They have copies made."
"So maybe I should tear off a piece of tinfoil and wrap that around my finger instead?"
"Do what you want," Taia said.
There was no point, Ilona decided, in reminding Taia that before Felix started making money, Taia had been so cheap she'd gutted empty tubes of Crest, scraping the toothpaste from the creases. No matter how tough her life got, Ilona thought, she'd never lower herself to something so miserly. At least she made use of the nice things she owned. Unlike Taia, whose kitchen had floor-to-ceiling pantries, brushed stainless-steel everything, and polished granite counters that she touched only when she was throwing a party.
"Did you put new low lights in the ceiling?" Ilona asked.
"It was Felix's idea." Taia tipped her head back. "He thought we'd get more for the house if the kitchen was brighter."
"You're selling it?"
"Not right away. It usually takes a year."
"You didn't tell me."
"We haven't really told anyone. Except the Kogans, and the Weinbergs, in case anyone knew of anyone who was looking. It isn't a secret."
There were plenty of things that Taia forgot to tell herbut selling a house? Was that just another bit of information exchanged between people with money, like a stock tip?
"Oh, don't be upset. A year's a long time. You can still come here whenever you need to get away from that man. Come this weekend. We're going to Providence for Parents' Day. You could drop in and water the plants, feed the cat." Taia laid down her paring knife and stood up. "Let me find you a key."
"I still have the key from last time," Ilona said. She couldn't tell if Taia was offering her a favor or asking for one, just as she couldn't judge if her friends kept things to themselves to protect her feelings or because they found her irrelevant. She knew they gossiped. A year ago she used to bring up Earl in conversation all the timetold her friends stories about his two favorite activities, researching his genealogy and organizing his video collection, and mimicked him mercilessly even if he was in the next room, or precisely because he was in the next room and didn't understand a word of Russian. She was staying with him so she could save up for her own apartment. But lately she'd started to realize that unless she wanted to move north into Putnam County or south into the Bronx, and either way end up an hour's drive from her job, her sojourn would have to drag on for at least another year.
She stepped outside and into the sun. The clouds were coasting slowly in the sky, forming metallic reflections in the second-story windows. The air was smoky from the grill. On the patio two men were lamenting the loss of jobs to Bangalore. Ilona walked past the Kogans and the Ulitskys, past the women reclining in white lounge chairs. It was mid-September, but already she felt a kick of cold in the air. She wore a silk blouse, while the others had come in cotton sweaters. She set her cup on the refreshments table and bent down to refill it with seltzer. A few dead leaves had fallen on the grass. They were the weakest leaves, the lemon-lime color of early fall.
When she turned around, she found Felix standing behind her. "Where is your friend today?" he said, and surveyed the people scattered around the lawn.
"When I left, he was still sleeping in front of his sixty-inch television."
"So Earl fell asleep and you snuck out?"
"Do I need Earl's permission to see my friends?"
"No. But I thought you'd extend the invitation to him."
"And what makes you think I didn't?"
"I don't think he would have missed an opportunity to be seen with you."
She was too tired to play this game today. Every time Felix tried to make her feel better he only made her feel worse. It was his diplomacy that was the worst of it, his awareness that every comment could be taken as a potential insult. The old contrite song, not for their affair of eleven years agowhich, thankfully, no one had learned aboutbut for all the other disappointments in her life.
"Earl couldn't come because he isn't feeling well. He's still weak from his bypass." It was a lie, an obvious one, because five months had passed since Earl's surgery. But who was going to argue? She picked up a plate. "I'm going to get something to eat."
"Please do." Felix stepped back a pace and returned her evasiveness with a delicate smile.
It was her fault for allowing Earl to meet her friends in the first place. She'd brought him along to the Fourth of July party a year ago and introduced him to everyone as her "roommate." As though this would explain anything. He was seventy, she was forty-five. She may as well have called him her chef or her architectit would have sounded more plausible. The minute she left him alone, he'd drifted off into an empty hallway. She'd discovered him an hour later in the foyer, talking to Felix about Hiroshima. Laughter from the party floated in from the yard while Earl went on about the Japanese who had jumped into the Motoyasu River only to be scalded alive by boiling water.
She felt her heels sinking into the lawn as she walked. Most of the other guests were wearing loafers or sneakers. A few had gathered around the grill to listen to the Georgian, the man Taia had mentioned. It was hard to tell if he was handsome or not; Ilona had seen him on the way into the party and had noted the light-gray eyes and crooked lower teeth, a combination that stirred an almost queasy sympathy in her. He looked younger than the men around him, possibly as young as thirty-five, yet he appeared to be on the brink of a decline that might be rapid, so that, when he finally did age, he would do so overnight.
"They told me they were guarding a base," the Georgian said, as the men parted to make room for Ilona. "They said that their friend had been shot in the hand and needed drugs to relieve the pain. I offered antibiotics, but they wanted morphine." She had no idea which war he was speaking of. It could have been Abkhazia or South Ossetia. She'd left Georgia three years before the republic had split from Russia, and its new problemswhich autonomous province wanted independence nexthad little impact on her. She'd heard of addicts in Tbilisi raiding hospitals even in peacetime. Perhaps it was the snobbery of distance: nothing would ever change there.
"I wanted to get out," he went on. "But when I stood up, one of them was pointing a rifle in my face."
"But you had a gun!" one of the men interrupted. "You should have shot him in the mouth!"
"Which mouth?" another said. "There were two of them!"
"I did something more dangerous than that," the Georgian continued. "I began to curse. I called them every name I could think of, hoping to alert someone who might overhear me. But I was running out of profanities."
He paused, glancing at Ilona. He looked surprised by the silent attention he had drawn.
"Aren't you going to tell us if you survived?" Ilona asked.
"Thank you," he said, nodding. "I did survive." He had a long jaw with a dimpled chin; it was the only feature that lent any merriment to his face. "I heard a vehicle drive into the hospital yard. The addicts thought it was a carload of soldiers. But it was only a man with an attack of pancreatitis."
"Pancreatitis? He must have been an alcoholic," Ilona said.
The Georgian acknowledged her mutely with his brows. He waited for the people around him to disperse into smaller groups. "He was. You work in an alcohol clinic?"
"No, a urologist's office. But I was a nurse in Tbilisi," she said.
"And what do you do now?"
"Catheters, rectal exams. Technically I am only a receptionist, so I also pick up the phone. But that's the only legal thing I do."
"Then your work is closer to medicine than mine," he said. "During the day I lay carpet."
"And at night?"
"At night I clean supermarkets."
"Then I wish you luck finding something more suited to your skills."
The man's eyes flitted across her face, as if they couldn't decide which part to examine first. "That may be hard for me to do without a work permit. My visa expires in a month."
"And after that?"
He shrugged. "We'll see. I am Thomaz," he said, offering his hand. She squeezed it lightly. "Ilona."
He held on to her fingers. "In my life I have met only two Ilonas, and both of you are very beautiful."
She felt heat rising in her face. So he is this kind of man, she thought. He was standing close, and she had to look up to speak to him. "You live in the city?" she said. Thomaz aimed his dimpled chin at a heavyset man with a short, square beard.
"Yosif is a cousin of my friend in Chiatura. He and his wife are letting me stay in their apartment in Brooklyn. Their son is at college and I'm taking his bed. It is awkward sometimes. I help buy food. If I have to use the bathroom at night, I tiptoe. But I'm not complaining." He touched his hand to his heart. "I am grateful. I feel as though I need to lose three limbs and an eye before I can be sorry for myself."
An illegal who cleaned supermarkets . . . She smiled to herself. This was all they could find for her? And yet she suspected he knew his appeal to women, and that in the worst of times he could still rely on it.
"It is a nice place here," he continued, looking around the property. Ilona followed his gaze down to the small rectangular pond. A dog was barking in a distant yard. "All this space," he said, shaking his head. "I am inside all the time now. It has been too long since I've seen woods, nature. The spirit starts to forget."
"This is hardly nature," she said. "But if you want to see nature, you should come back and walk the trails. I could pick you up at the station. The trains run every hour."
Reading Group Guide
1. In “The Repatriates,” a successful Wall Street professional returns to Russia, whereas in “Maia in Yonkers,” Maia leaves her son in Georgia to earn a living and help support her family. In “Asal,” Gulia abandons a more than comfortable material life to work as a nanny in Manhattan, and in “Better Half” Anya interrupts her education in Russia to work in a diner in Upstate New York. Discuss the role that financial decisions play in these stories. How are the characters’ motivations different from those of other immigrant characters you’ve read about? What motivations aside from financial ones drive them? Do the stories address a larger theme or message about the role money plays in our life decisions?
2. Most of the stories in One More Year are about women in relationships that are unresolved in some way or that require certain sacrifices and compromises. Do you see a similar vein through all of the stories? Discuss a common thread with respect to the theme of compromise in relationships.
1. When Ilona thinks about the waiter at Delmonico’s referring to her and Earl as Mr. Brauer and Mrs. Brauer, she thinks: “Did she really look old enough to pass for his wife? Or were they playing the game, too? Well, it didn’t matter to her what those people believed, whether they thought she was his wife or his girlfriend or his mistress. She was happy to cooperate with whatever public fantasy he had planned.”
How does the idea of “public fantasies” operate in this story? Do you believe Ilona when she says it doesn’t matter to her what “those people” believe? What are some other “public fantasies” that people you know perpetuate, passively or actively, in their relationships with others?
2. What roles do gossip and innuendo play in the story? In what sense is Ilona’s situation less scandalous than the rumors? In what ways more desperate? How does Ilona compare to nineteenth- century heroines such as Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, Anna Karenina, or Madame Bovary? In what ways is she similar to or different from these women?
“Maia in Yonkers”
1. After speaking with her sister, Maia wonders, “Must every simple decency now be counted?” How is this a telling statement about the link between money and familial obligation in the story? What are the ways in which these “obligations” get outsourced in both families?
2. Gogi is very particular about the brand-name clothes and electronics he wants his mother to send him. He’s infatuated with a hip-hop style, but when he overhears two black teenagers talking on the ferry, he surprises Maia with a racist comment. Do you see Gogi as prejudiced, or does his statement reveal more complex feelings about visiting the United States? In what other ways is his behavior surprising to Maia? In what ways does he seem younger than the image he projects?
3. The word deda means mother in Georgian. Gogi calls Maia deda at the end of the story but otherwise uses her first name. Discuss their relationship. Do you think Gogi has learned anything by the end of the story?
1. What does Victor expect from his meeting with his old lover’s daughter? Why is he determined to meet her?
2. What roles do ambition and envy play in this story? In what ways have Victor’s aspirations been frustrated by life? Do you think it’s possible for a person like Victor to be happy? Do you think he has any regrets?
1. Gulia feels “invisible” in New York. Walking down the street, she realizes that people are not looking at her and “seeing a servant,” but that they also don’t care about her at all. How does Gulia’s new anonymity influence her thinking and behavior? How is a metropolis like New York liberating for her? How is it disorienting?
2. Gulia tells Vlad that the Soviets would have punished open polygamy, but “now it is like time is moving backward.” What does she mean by this? In what ways are Gulia and Nasrin, though only five years apart in age, representative of two different eras?
3. Do you see Rashid as manipulative or do you find him sympathetic? Does he feel as trapped as Gulia and Nasrin or is he alone responsible for his actions?
1. Do you see Anya as a victim, as somebody taking control of her life, or as both? How would you characterize her romance with Ryan? Who has more power in the relationship, in your opinion?
2. Various characters, including Nick, Alexis, and Anya’s lawyer, Erin, address Anya in ways she considers patronizing. How does she tolerate their attitudes in order to benefit from them? Can you think of times in your life that you’ve done the same? Discuss the role of class in this story.
1. What are some ways the story’s title applies to the different characters? What are the different types of “debt” at play?
2. Why does Lev’s wife, Dina, distrust Sonya’s precociousness? Is her assessment fair?
1. The theme of “cons” looms throughout “The Repatriates.” What are the large and small ways people con one another in this story? What do you think about the attitude, expressed in the story, that those who get conned have it coming?
2. How does Grisha’s frustrated ambition compare with Victor’s in “The Alternate”? The exploration of religion and spirituality plays a role in both these men’s reevaluation of their lives. Do you think there is any connection between their spiritual searchings and their respective success or failure in business? Discuss.
3. Do you think there are ways in which Grisha is justified in what he is doing? Do you believe that Lera’s forgiveness of him is genuine? How do you read the last paragraph?
“There Will Be No Fourth Rome”
1. Like Gulia in “Asal,” Larisa feels herself at odds with the social changes taking place around her. In what ways are she and Nona mirror opposites of each other? How does Larisa represent a romantic dimension of Russia that is the opposite of the cynical dimension depicted in “The Repatriates”? Do you find Larisa to be a naive or a romantic character?
2. What do you think of Regina’s use of Dr. Spock as a manual for human behavior? Do you believe that “you can’t change another person’s character, though you can change their behavior”?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The psychology of endurance, did such a field really exist? Had this woman named it into existence? It seemed ludicrous in a way possible only in this country, spinning your own survival instincts into a new form of expertise, peddling them as though they were something you could teach people. ¿ from The Alternate, page 65 -A woman moves in with an older man out of necessity, a Russian boy visits his mother in New York and the divide between America and Russia widens, a man mourns a woman he once loved and hopes for a connection with her daughter, a young woman tries to break free of a polygamous marriage, a young wife struggles to leave an abusive marriage, a man learns the truth about his beloved niece, a man turns his back on Wall Street success to return to his native country, a young woman takes an extended visit back to Russia to escape the consequences of a bad decision at work¿all of these characters people the eight stories in Sana Krasikov¿s award winning collection: One More Year. Krasikov weaves her tales around the central theme of immigration and the struggle to adapt to a new country while clinging to the memories and connections of the past.In The Repatriates, this struggle is reflected through the eyes of a woman whose husband decides to leave his lucrative job on Wall Street to return to Russia and start a new business. Grisha resists adapting to his life in the United States, while his wife, Lera, wishes only to support her husband¿s desires.Lera would often see her husband off in a corner, rattling his drink and talking with someone about the morbid state of American culture, the absence of any real spirituality here. It was known to happen to such late arrivants ¿ the ones who¿d risked nothing, forsaken little, and had not even been required by the Russian government to annul their red passports. ¿ from The Repatriates, page 154 -When Lera rejoins Grisha back in Russia, there are secrets and betrayals waiting for her and the idealized version of her husband¿s Russia brings only disappointment.Most of the female characters in Krasikov¿s stories slide between wanting their autonomy and independence, to desiring a man¿s control in their lives. Often these characters are willing to set aside their own moralities to find love and acceptance from a man¿only to be disappointed and alone at the end. The dream of happiness and success in America is rarely attained. It seems as though Krasikov is illuminating a misconception ¿ that where we live has everything to do with self-actualization. And yet, all the characters in her stories are living the immigrant experience of hope, struggle, and the search for a better life by leaving behind what they know to take a risk on the unknown.Krasikov writes with a maturity and authenticity which makes her stories believable. The reader gets the feeling that Krasikov knows her characters intimately and understands their desires, motivations and flaws. Despite the bleakness which infiltrates this collection, the stories also contain some hope and the spirit of survival. One gets the feeling that even though these characters stumble and fall, they will get back up again.Sana Krasikov was recognized for the 5 Under 35 Award (administered by the National Book Foundation) for this debut collection of short stories, and it is easy to see why. Full of empathy, passion and a deep understanding of the struggle of immigrants, One More Year is a beautiful and insightful work of fiction.Highly recommended for those who love literary fiction in the form of the short story.
ARC Review: I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt, since this is her first collection of short stories. There were a ton of characters to try to keep track of and it seemed that many overlapped stories, which made character tracking even more difficult. I'm not very current on my Russian geography and it seemed to put me in a slight disadvantage since I'm sure the geographical references were important and beneficial to the story.
Characters are from Russia or live in Russia. I enjoyed the first 2 stories the best. By the end, I couldn't wait to be done with the book because I was tired of the book. The stories seemed very similiar.
Krasikov is a new writer, so I'd not heard of her before reading this collection, ONE MORE YEAR. But 'whew!" has this young woman got writing chops! Just over 30 years old and she can already write like this?! Remember this name, readers: Sana Krasikov. Because we're definitely going to be hearing more good things about her.The only negative thing I can think to say about these stories is that their subject matter seems to be pretty unrelievedly bleak. Ill-advised, hasty and failed relationships seem to be the central themes in all eight of the stories here, and the men are the bad guys. But they all deal too with the emigrant experience, and most vividly and realistically at that. Krasikov is able to easily switch setting from one tale to the next, alternating from New York to Tbilisi, to Moscow, etc. And her descriptions of the sudden poverty and instability that struck the former USSR when it suddenly crumbled back in the early 90s is right on the mark, with the sidewalk scenes of crippled veterans trying to sell their medals and ribbons, and old pensioners (whose pensions are laughable with the ruble devalued and rampant inflation) and ordinary citizens trying to sell old clothes, shoes - any kind of old junk, really - just to supplement their no longer adequate incomes. And always there are the women characters who are betrayed, lied to, abused, used and discarded by their men, both in the U.S. and in the former Soyuz. In fact one of the main messages here seems to be that men cannot be counted on, cannot be trusted, are scum. I suppose I might have been put off by this overriding theme, but the truth is the writing is so convincing, so good, that I wasn't.I thought of a couple of comparisons as I read Krasikov's stories. One would be another collection I read only recently, Valerie Laken's SEPARATE KINGDOMS. Whereas Laken is an American who knows, has visited and lived in the former USSR off and on for the past twenty years or so, and writes so vividly of those experiences, Krasikov was born in Ukraine, moved to the former Republic of Georgia, then emigrated to the U.S. as a child. The stories they both write are kind of mirror images, stories told from differing vantage points, if you will. And both women are extremely talented writers.The other book I thought of was Marina Lewycka's A SHORT HISTORY OF TRACTORS in UKRAINIAN, the bestselling novel which was set in England but is also about the Russian emigre experience, and also a very engaging and beautifully written book, and one which, in the end, is not quite so grim as Krasikov's stories. So okay, maybe these stories are pretty dark and have no comic relief to speak of - no relief at all, actually. But the talent; the talent is the thing here. Sana Krasikov is a writer, by God. I'll be watching for the novel she's working on. Hurry up, Sana. I'm waiting. If I have any suggestions, how about take a tip from Lewycka and include just a smidgen of happiness for the women in this book, okay?
Although well-written heart-wrenching stories, I found it difficult to relate to the characters in Krasikov's stories and struggled to reach the end. Possibly because of that, to me each story seemed to be like the one before it. Overall, I didn't love it, but I think in this case that is more about me than it is about the book.
One More Year was a collection of short stories by new writer, Sana Krasikov. In this book, Krasikov introduced us to memorable characters through eight stories ¿ each focused on Russians and their experiences in America and their homeland. Each short story dropped the reader in the middle of the action, and after several pages, you get the idea of the story. Each story presented a conflict with love and life, and though it¿s focused on Russians, their trials and tribulations are universal: Maia struggled with pleasing her teenage son, who she hadn¿t seen in years, and was frustrated with the whole process. Anya had enough of the physical and verbal abuse of her husband, Ryan, and sought protection from his ways. And Regina, who traveled to Russia to see her old friend, and ended up judging her friend when Regina herself was making a similar mistake.I found it helpful to look up some of the Russian towns and words on Google to help me understand the story better, but one could follow along without this knowledge. I also devoted one night to each story. Many reviewers complained that they tired of the stories, and I found reading one story per day made each one enjoyable. One More Year is highly recommended to readers who enjoy short stories by women authors and to those who like learning about other cultures. I was reminded of Rose Tremain¿s The Road Home when I read some of these stories. Taken in small doses, I found One More Year to be a wonderful depiction of hope and the pursuit for a better life. I look forward to Krasikov¿s first novel, which she is working on.
One More Year, a collection of short stories, deals mainly with the experiences of Russian immigrants to America. The stories follow men and women, young and old, as they adjust to the disappointments and realities of leaving Russia for America. Some of the stories deal with returning to a Russia that has transformed while they were gone, some are set in Russia. The vivid language and stark detail that the author used made the characters' situations come alive, and made the stories themselves very revealing and diverting. The circumstances her characters find themselves in are distinctive and well wrought, but the world her characters inhabit isn't a pretty place. It is a more gritty and unyielding world than most of us are acquainted with, populated with people who are selfish and self-serving. There was a dark energy surrounding these tales that was hard to displace, and as I read, looking for hope, I was scarcely rewarded with it.As a whole, the characters in this book didn't engender any sympathy. They were cynical and sullen people not content with the situations of their life, always more apt to complain than to change. Her characters tended to lament and gravitate towards dejection. Many of the characters were in relationships where monogamy played no part, and this was dealt with in a very indifferent fashion. The flagrant infidelity in these stories was tiresome. One story in particular, about a woman who is competing with another woman to be first in her partner's life, had a gruesome and disturbing conclusion. Another aspect that stood out as a hallmark of the collection was a lack of family cohesiveness. Many were guarded and disconnected from their relations, and mistrust and secretiveness dominated these relationships. Americans were often portrayed as people who frequently stole and ransomed passports and working documents, or were great snobbish bores, occupying opulent surroundings where the focal characters slaved away for them. Most of the marriages were marriages of convenience, lacking any affection or goodwill between partners. The author seems to have a very disenchanted and dismal view of the life of the modern day Russian in America. It's not an unbelievable set of circumstances that these characters have encountered, this struggle for a foothold on a new life, but the idea that among all these stories, there are none of hope or optimism, leads me to regard them as somewhat improbable. I have never encountered a more jaded group of characters.This book was deeply dispiriting. As I read, it seemed too much to hope for that something would go right for these people, and then it became a situation where I was reading, expecting the calamity page after page. The author's statement seems to be that life for the average Russian citizen who decides to take a chance on a better future is bleak and unrewarding. She shows exceptional talent in the ability to render these stories and situations, yet the whole endeavor made me sad and frustrated.
"One More Year" is a memorable, but depressing collection of short stories written by Sana Krasikov. The author, who grew up in the former Soviet Union, writes almost exclusively about women who either still live in Georgia, Russia, or the Ukraine or who have emigrated from there to the United States. These women struggle on a daily basis with issues like displacement, estrangement, and infidelity. They're frequently involved in unhealthy relationships, possibly as a means to cope with the loneliness and cultural isolation that immigrants often feel.Even though the stories are bleak, Ms. Kasinov writes them beautifully. I found myself rereading passages because they were so well written. I think she made her characters both believable and sympathetic. I would recommend "One More Year" to anyone who enjoys well written fiction, is interested in stories about immigration and assimilation, or who is interested in learning more about the former Soviet Union. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.
Sana Krasikov is a Russian writer and this collection of short stories is all about immigrants and their families and struggles. Some are set in the US, some in Russia, but it's all about parents and children, the new country and the old country. It reminded me a lot of Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri - also stories about immigrants, but better, more hopeful. Instead of seeming powerless against their misery, Krasikov's characters make choices, change directions, and make the best of bad situations.The only thing that keeps this from being a really stellar work is the focus on infidelity. It seems that the women in every story are either having affairs with married men, or their husband is having an affair, or their husband has a second wife somewhere. The only saving grace is that in at least some cases, the women are able to break out of these bad relationships and change their course.
ONE MORE YEARBy Sana KrasikovSpiegel & Grau PublishingISBN: 9780385524391I really love short stories. This book is a compilation of eight short stories all based around Russian immigrants, their lives here in the US and in some cases when they returned to Russia. Having grown up in a small town in the mid-west I was seldom given the opportunity to meet anyone who had moved here from another country so recently. Most people I knew were at least second generation like myself. When I moved to California one of the most exciting things for me was to meet people who had just recently come to this country. Each group comes with its own way of being in this world. What I have seen of people who came from Russia or surrounding countries was so much like what Sana Krasikov portrays in this book. The authenticity of the writing shouted at me.The writing in this book was perfect. I was able to immediately get involved with each new character and by the end I felt that while the story could go on farther I was still left with the satisfaction of a complete story. Most of the main characters were women with the same struggles that women of all nationalities experience especially in a new country.The only thing that I did struggle with in this book was also one of its greatest strengths. The stories were mostly sad and frustrating. I often left each one feeling much the way the main character was feeling. Since I tend to read mostly happy ending types of work I had to work a little harder to hang in there with this book. Like salt in a wound, however, it stings but ultimately it will assist in the healing. I think that it is important that we don¿t always look at the pretty side but the things that temper humanity to make it stronger.
One More Year by Sana Krasikov was an interesting glimpse into the lives of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to the United States. The eight stories presented cover a vast array of age groups, educational backgrounds, and economic status.What I liked most about this book is that each short story was uniquely different. My favorite story was the last one, and unlike the rest of the stories, the final one was the longest at forty two pages, and took place in Moscow. Each short story presented a character at a life changing point in their life. Loneliness, love, aspirations, and family are all very strong themes woven throughout the stories. Every character put forth was so humanly imperfect and realistic. A Russian glossary would be a helpful inclusion in this book, as well as a map to help the reader more clearly understand the context of these stories. Overall, a very well written and enjoyable book that I would recommend.