Wednesday, September 3, 2008
REVIEW: One More Year, by Sana Krasikov
One More Year, by Sana Krasikov. Published August 2008 by Spiegl and Grau. Short stories. Literary fiction.
One More Year is the debut collection of short stories by Georgian/Ukrainian author Sana Krasikov, which charts the effects of the breakup of the former Soviet Union on a panoply of characters from varying backgrounds and in different places. The stories range in location from various parts of New York City and its environs to Moscow and the former Soviet Union, and several in which characters travel back and forth between the two. Characters include a Muslim woman battling with her husband and his other wife, an older Soviet woman living in cramped quarters with her older, male American roommate, a younger one trying to assimilate herself while dealing with an abusive husband, and a Jewish couple wondering how to handle their wayward niece and her anti-Semitic boyfriend.
The themes throughout One More Year center on violence and disruption- disruption of a family, of privacy, of expectations, and violence either literal or metaphorical towards one's self, one's dreams or one's way of life. Krasikov does a nice job of creating vivid little worlds inside each story, sketching economical portraits of characters and lives that noneless sing with detail and emotion. I am always impressed by the art of the fiction-miniaturist- how I think of really good short story writers- able to create so much out of so little, like being able to keep warm off the heat of a single matchstick. Krasikov succeeds beautifully.
I have two favorite stories- the first, "Companion," about divorced, middle-aged Ilona Siegal, an immigrant fron Georgia living with Earl, a seventyish man who liked to investigate his geneaology and take her out to dinner at an old-fashioned expensive restaurant, has about it a lyric sense of loss, frustration and resignation. The second, "Better Half," about twenty-two year old Anya, is also about a woman trying to free herself of a man, in this case her husband Ryan, a frat-boy type who drinks too much and tends towards the controlling. Anya marries him half for love and half for convenience and leaves him when Ryan's liabilities outweigh his assets. Her story is more optimistic but Krasikov invests each with a moving, bittersweet quality.
One More Year is a terrific collection of short stories by a very talented writer with a deft hand and a great deal of empathy for a diverse assortment of characters, as well as an impressive entry in the growing body of post-Soviet literary work. It would be a great book for all short story fans but for those interested in post-Soviet literature in particular. I hear that Krasikov is at work on a novel; I can't wait to read it.
Have you reviewed One More Year? Please let me know in the comments- I'd love to know what you thought!
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.