FROM THE BOOK JACKET: When Andrei Kaplans older brother Dima insists that Andrei return to Moscow to care for their ailing grandmother, Andrei must take stock of his life in New York. His girlfriend has stopped returning his text messages. His dissertation adviser is dubious about his job prospects. Its the summer of 2008, and his bank account is running dangerously low. Perhaps a few months in Moscow are just what he needs. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn, packs up his hockey stuff, and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother, a woman who has outlived her husband and most of her friends. She survived the dark days of communism and witnessed Russias violent capitalist transformation, during which she lost her beloved dacha. She welcomes Andrei into her home, even if she cant always remember who he is.
Andrei learns to navigate Putins Moscow, still the city of his birth, but with more expensive coffee. He looks after his elderly—but surprisingly sharp!—grandmother, finds a place to play hockey, a café to send emails, and eventually some friends, including a beautiful young activist named Yulia. Over the course of the year, his grandmothers health declines and his feelings of dislocation from both Russia and America deepen. Andrei knows he must reckon with his future and make choices that will determine his life and fate. When he becomes entangled with a group of leftists, Andreis politics and his allegiances are tested, and he is forced to come to terms with the Russian society he was born into and the American one he has enjoyed since he was a kid.
Keith Gessen is the author of All the Sad Young Literary Men
and a founding editor of n+1
. He is the editor of three nonfiction books and the translator or co-translator, from Russian, of a collection of short stories, a book of poems, and a work of oral history, Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl
. A contributor to The New Yorker
and The London Review of Books
, Gessen teaches journalism at Columbia and lives in New York with his wife and sons.