cover image Offended Sensibilities

Offended Sensibilities

Alisa Ganieva, trans. from the Russian by Carol Apollonio. Deep Vellum, $16.95 trade paper (252p) ISBN 978-1-64605-223-3

No one is innocent or spared in Ganieva’s splendid and gripping tale of Russian corruption and control (after Bride & Groom). Andrei Ivanovich Lyamzin, the regional minister of economic development in his provincial town, flags down a man named Nikolai for a ride, too paranoid to take an Uber. He then dies in Nikolai’s car from a ruptured aorta, and his death is viewed with suspicion, as he had received countless threats. Nikolai is next to die, after receiving a strange note accusing him of murder. Ganieva portrays a pervasive chilling effect throughout the country, where history teachers are arrested for presenting a less-than-glowing portrait of the Soviet past. Lyamzin, meanwhile, committed nepotism to advance the careers of his headmistress wife, Ella, and his mistress, Marina Semyonova, who rose to the top of a construction company flush with government contracts, and which happened to employ Nikolai. As the investigation progresses into Lyamzin’s death, only Marina Semyonova comes out on top. Ganieva gives her characters exceedingly pretentious airs—an assistant who survives Lyamzin has a “habit of collecting fancy words”—which adds to the sense that their lives are structured like a house of cards, and she makes their doom more than palpable. This is impossible to put down. Agent: Alexandra Christie, Wylie Agency. (Nov.)