cover image Kidnapped: A Story in Crimes

Kidnapped: A Story in Crimes

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, trans. from the Russian by Marian Schwartz. Deep Vellum, $16.95 trade paper (268p) ISBN 978-1-64605-204-2

Petrushevskaya (The New Adventures of Helen) offers a campy story involving babies switched at birth in 1980s Moscow. Shortly after pregnant 21-year-old Alina Rechkina is abandoned by her husband and left penniless, she goes into labor. Her roommate on the maternity ward, Masha Sertsova, is set to leave the country after her baby’s birth to join her husband in the foreign service in South Asia. Instead, Masha dies during her labor. Alina, frightened for her own child and resentful of the prosperous life awaiting Masha’s son far from a collapsing Russia, impulsively switches their infants’ identifying bracelets. Later, she’s surprised to hear from Masha’s widower, Sergei Sertsov, who asks her to assume Masha’s identity and help raise his child in Handia. She agrees and spends three years there, enduring Sergei’s verbal abuse before he abandons her. Back in Moscow, Alina moves into Masha’s old apartment, where the consequences of a previous baby switch and audacious scheming from Sergei play out to dizzying effect. Though the plot can be confusing, there’s plenty of cutting satire of corruption in late- and post-Soviet Russia. This irreverent and absurdist outing will keep readers guessing to the very end. Agent: Julia Goumen, Banke, Goumen & Smirnova. (Feb.)