Books by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

THE GIRL FROM THE METROPOL HOTEL by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Released: Feb. 7, 2017

"A terse, spirited memoir that reads like a picaresque novel."
Autobiography of an acclaimed Russian writer who grew up "hungrier, dirtier, and colder than everyone else." Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 28, 2014

"Infernal, haunting monologues."
Three deceptively simple tales explore the dark terrain of the greedy human soul. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 29, 2013

"Think Chekhov writing from a female perspective, burnished by the ennui of a soulless collectivist state, contemplating the influence of culture and politics on love and relationships."
Petrushevskaya's (There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, 2009) short stories transform the mundane into the near surreal, pausing only to wink at the absurdity of it all. Read full book review >
IMMORTAL LOVE by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Released: April 1, 1996

An impressive collection of stories—some 20 years' worth— from the Russian author of the highly acclaimed novel The Time: Night (1992): a virtuoso whose work displays both Chekhovian delicacy and Tolstoyan moral force and resonance. No writer, though, is more relentlessly contemporary. Petrushevskaya's territory is the politically unstable and economically endangered Russian urban milieu of the 1970s and 1980s. Her stories, divided here into ``Histories'' and ``Monologues,'' are uncompromisingly realistic, frequently downbeat, yet always leavened and varied by sardonic humor and the implicit background presence of a buoyant survivor's instinct. Their province is woman's fate (with few exceptions, her male characters are essentially opaque). Vividly rendered protagonists include a reputedly ``perfect'' young woman destined to live a frustratingly unfulfilled life (in ``The Wall''); a watchful girl who learns how to avoid the marital unhappiness that destroys her parents (in ``Father and Mother''); a pregnant young wife who leads a tense ``ambiguous existence'' while dwelling with her insensitive husband's suspicious mother (in ``Nets and Snares''); and the hopeful heroine of ``Immortal Love,'' who learns to her sorrow that elusive bliss may be nothing more than ``the instinct to propagate the species.'' Petrushevskaya composes with equal skill both brief sketches (``Another Land,'' ``Crossing the Field'') and such densely packed longer tales as ``The Lookout Point,'' which surveys the life and loves of a well-meaning but faithless seducer who simply cannot commit himself to any of the women smitten by him, and ``The Little Girl,'' the flinty story of an unhappy wife and mother's relationship with her errant husband and with the apparently friendly prostitute who lives next door. All of the women here, despite the variety of their personalities and circumstances, might well join in the rueful litany of one of the characters: ``the grass keeps growing, and life itself...seems indestructible. Ah, but it is destructible, it is destructible''. The work of a major talent, quite possibly the best Russian writer of her generation. Read full book review >
THE TIME: NIGHT by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Released: Sept. 13, 1994

Short-listed in 1992 for the newly established Russian Booker Prize, Petrushevskaya's short novel (her first to be translated into English) is especially meaningful if its literary echoes are pre-established for the non-Russian reader. The narrator is an aging poet named Anna, pointed namesake of Anna Akhmatova, who shares her great predecessor's fate of having had a son in jail. But there the close resemblances end, for this Anna is in a sense an anti-Akhmatova: a frump without mystery, grace, or beauty in suffering. Her pain is homely, and what feeds her poetry is anyone's guess. She supports and lives with any number of essentially ungrateful relatives, mostly her flighty daughter Alyona; the two children Alyona bears with various unsatisfactory consorts and then pretty much gives up to her mother's care; Anna's own gone-around-the-bend mother; and now and then her son, Andrei—no noble gulag-ite, but a cadging, thankless wretch. The life here is hectically, hilariously close: Russian domesticity at its most unsparing, with everyone in each other's hair, minds, lives. Anna's narrative is interspersed with Alyona's romantic and hopeless diaries (read on the sly by her snooping mother, who, much to the author's credit, is anything but a saint), which operate as a plane of yearning for heights that daily life never reaches. The novel's affective core, though, is Anna's love for her grandson Tima, and it's here that Anna's credibility as a poet comes to the fore: ``Great thick curling lashes, little fans! All parents, and grandparents especially, love their babies physically like this, make them make up for everything else in life. It's sinful love I tell you...But what can you do? Nature intended for us to love.'' Told in an intimate, loose, over-the-back-fence style, this is an alternately funny and desperate book—a welcome introduction to a strong talent. Read full book review >