One of my oldest and dearest friends, Sana Krasikov, has just published a really rad story from her new collection, One More Year. (The new cover, by the way, is a million times cooler — it’s a contact sheet. You’ll like it.) You can read “The Repatriates” here. It’s a bit depressing, but also very vivid. I for one would like to know more about these zatvornitsas. As excellent as this story is, and it is very, very excellent, it’s nowhere near the best one in the collection, which is a damn good reason to buy it, not to put to fine a point on it.
Russians are intensely xenophobic and they are scary drunks — but I find you can actually talk to them. They are a very chatty people, I say in a spirit of preposterous generalization. And I suppose that’s why I’ve always liked them. My high school was full of recent-ish arrivals, who spent countless hours debating the relative merits of St. Petersburg (smart, severe) vs. Moscow (brassy, hypersexed) vs. Odessa (trashy, full of thugs). I understood about half of it.
I’ll add, briefly, that Sana is an incredibly vivid storyteller in person, and she has an unusually powerful personality. I often half-joke that I’d happily listen to a three-hour daily podcast of her internal monologue. If you have the good fortune to meet her, perhaps on her book tour, you’ll know what I mean. Her stories are finely crafted. One day, though, I hope they’ll capture her antic energy. They certainly capture her sharp eye for detail and for the constantly shifting hierarchies that define our lives as shaved apes.