cover image Virtuoso


Yelena Moskovich. Two Dollar Radio, $16.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-937512-87-3

This challenging novel from Moskovich (The Natasha) tells the stories of four queer European women in a filmic, fragmented style. The book opens with Aimée discovering her wife Dominique’s dead body in a hotel room while on vacation in Portugal; from there, the plot quickly zooms across time from the subsequent meeting in Paris of Aimée and Jana, a Czech translator, through their earlier lives. From there, the plot zooms through their earlier lives. Teenaged Aimée falls for the older Dominique, an actor whose mental health deteriorates as she ages. In Prague during the collapse of Communism, school-aged Jana and volatile Zorka fall into an intense friendship with sexual overtones Jana does not fully understand. Zorka abandons Jana and moves to the U.S. to live with an uncle, but has a difficult time integrating with her cruel, homophobic classmates. The snippets become more surreal: Aimée recounts being haunted by the color blue following her wife’s death and Moskovich intersperses erotic online chats between an American teenager and an abused Eastern European housewife. An unexpected reunion ties together all the stories in an emotionally complex and gratifying ending. The novel induces discomfort with its characters’ dark fantasies and blurred senses of reality. Readers who get into the novel’s bleak groove will reap dividends from this striking character study. [em](Jan.) [/em]