cover image Bride & Groom

Bride & Groom

Alisa Ganieva, trans. from the by Carol Apollonio. Deep Vellum (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (248p) ISBN 978-1-941920-59-6

This humorous and entertaining marriage drama from Ganieva (The Mountain and the Wall) centers on Patya and Marat, two star-crossed Dagestanis intent on marrying despite intense pushback from their conservative families and community. After spending a year in Moscow and failing to find a suitor, 25-year-old Patya returns to her small hometown in Dagestan, where her overbearing parents try to pressure her into a relationship with Timur, an outspoken local activist. Marat’s parents, meanwhile, have taken a different tack, reserving an expensive banquet hall for his wedding even though he has no girlfriend, much less a bride. The two characters meet during Patya and Timur’s unsuccessful date at a rally for a jailed neighborhood crime boss, Khalilbek, and later meet in public at a café, scandalizing the community. Though offstage for the most part, Khalilbek proves to be a major wedge between the two lovers’ families, as Patya’s mother cites Marat’s family’s allegiance to Khalilbek as a reason not to go through with the marriage. Nevertheless, Patya accepts Marat’s proposal and a wedding is hastily planned, though a sudden, surprising issue with the groom casts the entire ceremony into doubt. Though the novel builds its gossipy world too slowly and resolves its narrative too quickly, Ganieva’s writing is consistently witty and energetic, crafting an appropriately complicated image of a place and people united and divided by tradition and progress, old grudges and new unions. (Apr.)