Stories of a Life

Nataliya Meshchaninova, trans. from the Russian by Fiona Bell. Deep Vellum, $14.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-64605-115-1
Russian film director Meshchaninova debuts with an arresting and frank autobiographical story that began as a series of Facebook posts and describes childhood in a society complicit with men and boys who openly prey on girls and young women. Natasha introduces her extended family (“There isn’t a single normal person.... Sorry in advance”) and sketches the murderers and harassers who walk free in Krasnodar, including a group of seven men who killed a girl when they were teens. At 14, Natasha starts a diary, where she lies about everything from her hair color to her sexual exploits. Her mother reads it and believes Natasha has leukemia, resulting in a costly “cure.” Natasha learns her real father is not the man who divorced her mom when Natasha was five, but a coworker with whom her mother carried on an affair for 20 years. Underlying these early stories are references to Uncle Sasha, Natasha’s second stepfather, who “murdered my childhood” by sexually assaulting her, which Natasha recounts in devastating detail in a late chapter that ends with a brutal revelation about her mother. Throughout, Meshchaninova sustains the effect of a woman still wrestling with the hatred she carries. This blunt coming-of-age story packs a heavy punch. Agent: Julia Goumen, BGS Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/19/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-64605-116-8
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