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The New Yorker: "What begins as a cruel comic romp ends as a surprisingly winning story of hardship and resilience."

Date: Jun 28 2011

In this acidly funny novel, three generations of Russian women survive Communism, emigration, disease, pedophiles, poverty, and, most impressively, each other. The narrator, Rosalinda Achmetowna, is a vain and scornful mother, who berates her hapless husband as a “turd” and disparages her long-suffering daughter Sulfia as “stupid” and “deformed.” When Sulfia becomes pregnant, Rosa attempts to abort the fetus, without success. She soon develops a soft spot for her new granddaughter, however, and schemes to steal her from Sulfia. Throughout, Rosa’s voice is merciless, but Bronsky gradually coaxes tenderness and sympathy from the scrim of her contempt. What begins as a cruel comic romp ends as a surprisingly winning story of hardship and resilience.