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Friday, April 3, 2015

****There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

      • Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, born in Moscow 1938, where she still lives, is a Russian writer, novelist and playwright.
      • Translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen and Anna Summers and was published in 2009
      • A fascinating women, Petrushevskaya is also a singer and a visual artist. She has exhibited her work in major Russian museums. 
      • Petrushevskaya's work was once banned from publication in Russia 
      • Style: Urban Folk-Tale; allegorical 

      Petrushevskaya was formerly banned from publishing books in Russia. Many of her stories were not translated into English until recently. Her short stories depict mostly Russian women in dark, melancholic despairing situations during post-war Russia.

      Petrushevskaya writes in allegoric form. Her stories read like urban folk tales. She uses surreal, mystical and fantastical imagery to convey the transformative experiences of her characters. Like a dream, the world around them metamorphoses from one moment to the next. The characters wander in nekyia- night journeys where they separate from their physical bodies and float through mysterious tunnels, doors and apocalyptic worlds.  The woman, often on the brink of death or in some other catastrophic situation within their daily lives, are able to see and understand their circumstances differently and return to life with a renewed perspective. It is a form of redemption and, sometimes, healing.

      I was mesmerized by Petrushevskaya’s tales. Together, they portray the extreme impoverished conditions of post-war Russia; the soul of its people crushed by oppression, starvation and valueless money. Petrushevskaya’s otherworldly style reveals the indomitable spirit of a people forced to live in squalid and often inhumane situations. Similar to Chekhov, this is story telling at its finest.

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