The Orphan Sky

Ella Leya. Sourcebooks Landmark, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4022-9865-3
Leya, who grew up in the Communist Soviet Union and later defected to the United States, has written a refreshingly nuanced novel of Russia, complete with wonderful classical and jazz music influences. Fifteen-year-old Leila Badalbeili leads a privileged existence as a Youth Communist Party member in 1979 Baku, the capital of Soviet Azerbaijan. Her manipulative leader, Comrade Farhad, assigns her to spy on a music shop owned by a suspected American plant. Meantime, her redoubtable music teacher, Professor Sultan-zade, stresses that Leila's prodigious talent for playing the piano should remain her first priority. The music shop owner, Tahir Mukhtarov, denies he's a secret agent but introduces Leila to so-called decadent Western society while exposing the hypocrisy and corruption underlying her beloved Communist ideals. She falls in love with Tahir, her "Aladdin," as the safe, idyllic world of her parents crumbles away and she is forced to grow up in order to survive in "the kingdom of crooked mirrors." The author deftly captures the paranoia and isolation of Red Russia. Leya's immersive novel speaks with authenticity and should entertain fans of smart Cold War espionage fiction. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/23/2015
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4022-9866-0
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4022-9867-7
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