Half a Revolution: Contemporary Fiction by Russian Women

Masha Gessen, Editor
Masha Gessen, Editor Cleis Press $12.95 (269p) ISBN 978-1-57344-006-6
Hardcover - 269 pages - 978-1-57344-007-3
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In Russia, a hot-tempered person is said to start ``half a revolution,'' explains editor Gessen. Of course, since this is a collection of women's writing, another revolution is implied, one quietly involving half the population of a country whose historic milestones have featured plenty of revolution but few women. The same openness that welcomed McDonald's has unmuzzled women's voices and admitted previously unspeakable notions--mystical beliefs, equal wages for women, homosexuality--into Russia's vocabulary and into the tumultuous re-formation of its identity. But, for all that is new, these women honor their roots. The decaying housing complex in Galina Volodina's compassionate tale of bickering, corruption and failure recalls Gogol's doss-house. Turgenev would recognize the insistent details Marina Paley uses to underline the spiritual isolation and selfishness in a provincial hospital; and Valeria Narbikova's six-dimensional journeys over Moscow float very close to the fantastic spaces of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. Natalia Shulga's childhood romance of trust, innocence and the forbidden may be lesbian, but it is also universal. In the tradition of great pre-Soviet writers, these authors focus on ordinary lives where fear and pettiness outweigh nobler motives, where the familiar nuances of psychology are still the most complex and intriguing. (Apr.)
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