A slight but engagingly humorous novel by Russian ÇmigrÇ Dovlatov (Ours: Scenes from Russian Family Life; The Suitcase) about life in the Russian section of Queens. When Marusya Tatarovich falls in love with Rafael, a charming womanizer, the whole neighborhood is worried. Marusya emigrated not for political reasons but ``because there was something unreal about emigration. Something like life after death. You could try to start all over, get rid of the burden of the past.'' She had been a member of the nomenklatura, but somehow her life hadn't quite turned out as she wished. A first marriage to a general's son ended in divorce; a common-law marriage to a famous singer, and the father of her son Lyova, broke up over other women; and her third marriage was one of convenience--so that she could leave the Soviet Union. Attractive and friendly, Marusya has many friends in the community, even among the dissidents who despise her background. But life in the US hasn't been that good either--until Rafael, who is supported by his wealthy family, turns up. Rafael, however, is unreliable and unpredictable; he gives her a parrot, Lolo, which ``swears like a hung-over Soviet laborer,'' as a birthday gift, and he frequently forgets to pay bills or goes off with other women. Marusya is tempted to return to Russia, but when Lolo disappears, Rafael finally comes through. Lolo is found and Rafael marries Marusya, much to the neighborhood's delight. A choice assortment of comic characters and incidents make this a wry but affectionate portrait of one of New York's newer communities.