The Funeral Party

Ludmila Ulitskaya, Author
Ludmila Ulitskaya, Author Schocken Books Inc $18.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4185-3
Reviewed on: 01/01/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-8052-1132-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-03648-2
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The oddly matched protagonists in this award-winning Russian author's lively American debut are connected through their love for the artist Alik, a Russian migr keeling merrily toward death. Alik's loved ones gather at his cramped, stiflingly hot downtown Manhattan apartment, each trying to reconcile their memories with their moral obligations to the dying man. His neurotic wife, Nina, is desperate for Alik to be baptized; Maika, the 15-year-old daughter of his ex-lover, Irina, is upset that no one understands Alik's jokes now that the man is sick.Ulitskaya uses the loved ones' varying emigration experiences to underscore their attempts to respect one another's places in Alik's life and at his deathbed. One friend, for example, cannot get his impressive medical credentials certified in the U.S., while another not only passed his exams in record time but took advantage of advances in Western technology and found work in a cutting-edge field of medicine--still, both live in poverty. Irina, a former circus acrobat, performed at night for ""rich idiots,"" using her earnings to graduate from law school, while Nina, a former model, now finds nothing for herself to do in the U.S. besides tend to Alik and drink. Ulitskaya is adept at capturing the subtle nuances of thought and experience, expressing both human spirit and flaws without false sentimentality. Her characters are fully realized, rendered in extraordinary detail. (Jan. 17)
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