cover image There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In

There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, trans. from the Russian by Anna Summers. Penguin, $16 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-14-312166-4

This third collection of Petrushevskaya's short fiction to be translated into English brings together three stories about family by a Russian writer whose work was long suppressed, primarily for its daring to express such controversial topics as domestic dissatisfaction and discord. In "The Time Is Night," originally written in 1992 and published in Germany before it was available in Russia, a sharp-tongued woman juggles committing her elderly mother to a mental hospital, caring for her beloved young grandson, coping with her alternately manipulative and ungrateful adult children, and keeping them all afloat with her poetry. "Love them%E2%80%94they'll torture you; don't love them%E2%80%94they'll leave you anyway," remarks the narrator in the midst of her long, often caustic and increasingly desperate monologue. In the intentionally melodramatic "Chocolates with Liqueur," a woman endures domestic violence silently until a crisis brings the situation to a head. And in "Among Friends," the strongest story of the group, a woman convinced she's dying takes shocking measures to ensure the well-being of her son. Written in 1988 but censored for 17 years, "Among Friends" offers a glimpse into Soviet politics and culture%E2%80%94at both what they valued and at what they feared. (Oct.)