Writer: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (tr. by Anna Summers)
Publishing House: Penguin Modern Classics
Date of Publication: 2014 (first published 2002)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Oh, great mother nature! Why do you have to trick us? Why do you need all this mucus, stench, violence, our sleepless night and exhausting work? Presumably to make things right, but nothing ever turns out right.’’
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s stories in this volume are part of an absurd, nightmarish universe. Except that this ‘’universe’’ is very, very real. This is the living Hell of the Soviet society, built on lies, treachery, corruption and violence. This is beautiful Moscow turned into a den of worms where people try to survive another day in communal apartments because All Hail the Great Collectivization, beloved comrades! This is the journey within the turbulence of their feelings, the terror of living with your enemy. This is how the future is destroyed, this is how family members turn into enemies over a piece of bread, a potato and a few centimetres of space. This is why we need to study some serious History.
The Time Is Night: A poet is trying to survive under a series of threats. Eviction, a daughter who can’t close her legs, creating babies by the minute, a son who is a coward, a criminal and an all-around accomplished Soviet parasite. Poetry echoing Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva and her grandson are the only sources of light in her life. But they are far from enough…
Chocolates With Liqueur: This harrowing story is divided into three chapters. We start at the heart of the story, we continue with the origins of Lelia’s ordeal in the hands of a monster and the end comes in the final chapter. You will drive yourselves mad trying to comprehend Lelia’s docility, you will find yourselves murdering her husband in your mind in approximately 200 different ways but I promise you, the closure will satisfy you 200%!
Among Friends: A troubled mother resorts to extreme actions to ensure that her son will have a better life. But even that is highly doubtful.
‘’Recently my memory grew hazy and I began losing my eyesight. How many years passed in our Friday gatherings? Ten? Fifteen? We heard of the political unrest in Czechoslovakia, then in China, then in Romania, then in Yugoslavia; after that came the news about the trials of the culprits, followed by the trials of those who had protested against the original trials, then the trials of those who had collected money to support the families of the incarcerated dissidents, but all these events rolled past our nest on Stulin Street.’’