One More Year: Stories Hardcover – Aug 12 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In her stunning short story debut, Krasikov hones in on the subtleties of hope and despair that writhe in the hearts of her protagonists, largely Russian and Georgian immigrants who have settled on the East Coast. In Better Half, 22-year-old Anya gets a protection order against her husband, Ryan, after he attacks her; he pleads for forgiveness, but, Anya realizes, a future with Ryan would be like staying in Russia. In The Repatriates a man returns to Moscow—to his wife's disappointment—intent on applying to the Russian stock market some tricks he picked up on Wall Street. In Maia in Yonkers, a Georgian immigrant is visited by her son, and the tensions are fierce and palpable. In The Alternate, Victor meets the Americanized daughter of an old love from Russia. Though many of Krasikov's stories are bleak, there are swells of promise; even Lera, whose husband leaves her for another woman, suddenly felt nothing but the most pure-hearted compassion for him, a kindness and forgiveness that almost broke her heart. Krasikov's prose is precise, and her stories are intelligent, complex and passionate. (Aug.)
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“An amazingly mature work for a young author. The eight stories herein are all shrewdly humane and formally exquisite. Initial readers of Drown and Interpreter of Maladies must have felt the shock of discovery after encountering those stellar debut collections. Well, now there’s a new kid on the block: Krasikov is as good as Junot Diaz and Jhumpa Lahiri were at this stage in their careers. . . One awaits Krasikov’s future work. If these stories are any indication, her name will become justifiably familiar.”
“Krasikov’s soft, steady voice describing terrible violence creates a quiet explosion, to stunning effect. Equally remarkable is her ability to set forth complications–prior marriages, children, pervasive devaluation of women, longing for love–in a way that enters us at once, and utterly convinces. . . Graceful and keen, these stories seep into memory not only for their unflinching gaze but also for their sane compassion. It is one thing (often a writer’s self-flattery) to present characters in complex distress as if they were specimens. It’s something else to stand alongside them, not with sentiment but with humility, with a kind of emotional and spiritual solidarity. Krasikov achieves this, and we’re larger for it.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“Her book is more cogent, as a collection with a point, than most. . . Ms. Krasikov’s short stories are some of the finest debut work to appear in recent years. Bitterness and martyrdom are the spice of these stories, and one of her characters, bewildered by the petty tit-for-tat around her, wonders: ‘Must every simple decency now be counted?’ But that kind of counting is precisely what makes a writer of manners superb.”
–The New York Sun
“Krasikov imbues her writing with a tangible humanity that erases the otherness an unfamiliar culture so often breeds, and in the process makes us care about each one of her characters. Whether male or female, teenage or elderly, in chaotic modern Moscow or a bucolic New York City suburb, their stories feel immediate, urgent, and gratifyingly real.”
–Entertainment Weekly (A-)
“They have extricated themselves from dead-end lives in their native Russia; now some of the emotional émigrés in Sana Krasikov’s stunning debut collection of stories are in America, trapped in makeshift jobs or marriages, and waiting, always waiting, for redemption. One More Year is an exploration of ‘an entire world transposed, like an ink blot on a folded map, from one continent to another,’ an atlas of continental drift.”
–O, The Oprah Magazine
“One More Year riffs on the old story of the immigrant experience in America in a surprisingly fresh way… her story collection is consistently original.”
–Time Out New York
“In her stunning short story debut, Krasikov hones in on the subtleties of hope and despair that writhe in the hearts of her protagonists, largely Russian and Georgian immigrants who have settled on the East Coast . . . Though many of Krasikov's stories are bleak, there are swells of promise . . . Krasikov's prose is precise, and her stories are intelligent, complex and passionate.”
–Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“While many of the stories are told from the point of view of women, hailing from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, the characters differ greatly both in terms of economic opportunity and religious affinity–even as they all share a certain longing for love and connection. . . Filled with clear-eyed observations, this elegant debut frequently alights on romantic disappointment while leaving just enough room for hope.”
“Many of Krasikov’s characters in her captivating debut are immigrants of the former Soviet Union, searching for, and often finding, resilience in life and love. . . Krasikov’s careful prose augments the quiet complexity of her characters as they confront love and loss within an unfamiliar landscape. Despite their melancholic situations, the protagonists in these eight tales still manage to find moments of reckoning and grace.”
“Sana Krasikov is a brilliant new writer. The stories of One More Year are populated by imperfect characters who always surprise, and who are gloriously brought to life with humor, sympathy, and unexpected tenderness.”
–Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
“Sana Krasikov's memorable characters emerge, fully formed and breathing on their own, from a deep, clear pool of seemingly effortless language, a knowing and incisive but empathetic sensibility. These stories are original, resplendent, and brilliant.”
–Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man
“Sana Krasikov is the real thing. Her stories take shape inside the specific world of émigrés wrestling with language and loss and the stubborn details of survival, but they open into the largest of worlds and speak a universal language of heartbreak and desire.”
–Jonathan Rosen, author of The Life of the Skies
“Sana Krasikov's observations of the world her characters inhabit–full of big and small tragedies, laughable and lamentable incidents–are as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, yet her understanding of her characters–most often of their follies and imperfections–are tender and sympathetic. She treats every story as a novel, and the readers of these stories will, in the end, live with the characters beyond the space of a short story. These stories are the debut of a major literary voice shaped by the literary traditions both American and Russian.”
–Yiyun Li, author of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Some of my favorite stories include Asal, about a relationship not normally talked about, Better Half about a young couple that marries too soon so one can remain in the United States, and There Will Be No Fourth Rome about an aunt and her niece.
To me, the stories slowly reveal themselves like peeling back an onion. You know so little in the beginning and slowly more and more information is revealed. I really like this style of writing, it keeps you on your toes and you have to pay very close attention. It's not just laid out from page one.
It is a quiet sort of collection that explores everyday life, but not the life that I'm used to or the struggles I've had to face. For that, I really enjoy it. I feel like I learned things I hadn't really known or thought about much before. I can definitely understand the comparisons to Jhumpa Lahiri. I have read her novel The Namesake, which I also enjoyed.
One thing that impressed me greatly about One More Year: Stories is the character development. Generally, I don't read short stories very often, unless they are by a favorite author or they are a trademark of the author (such as David Sedaris). One of the main aspects I enjoy about books is witnessing character development and watching characters grow before the reader's eyes. Short stories are too short to be able to have significant character development. However, somehow, Krasikov manages to pull it off. In each of her stories, the reader is immersed in the character; though we spend a very short time with each character, the reader gets to know him or her well and watches them grow. It's quite the feat for a debut author; I look forward to seeing what she can do with characters in a novel.
However, there is one thing I didn't like about One More Year: Stories: the lack of variation in the stories. Each of the stories is about betrayal, lies, not being appreciated, etc. By the end of the collection, I felt like each story was more of the same. I gave a short story collection a five star review not to long ago (In the Convent of Little Flowers by Indu Sundaresan [review]) and it was because each story was so different. All of the characters in the stories were Indian, yes, but some were in America, some were in India, some were old, some were young. Some of the stories ended happily, others were tragic; the point is that while the stories did have a common theme, they were each very different. I didn't get that sense with One More Year: Stories. The stories were simply too similar in nature.
I do look forward to seeing what Sana Krasikov does in the future. She's obviously a talented author with a lot of potential!
Most of the people populating the stories are Russian immigrants living in America. Some have been here a long time, escaping during the rise of Communism; others are new and have only been in the United States a few years. Frequently, characters fly back and forth between America and the "mother country" as relationships shatter or kindle anew. Krasikov is drawing on her own experiences; she was born in Ukraine while there was still a Soviet Republic and now lives in New York City.
These aren't happy fairy tale stories with happy endings. There's no magic, just gritty realism. Yet, despite my preference for fantasy I really dig this book. The situations for most of these people are far from ideal, or even desirable. Many of the women have cheating lovers or husbands, who may have a second wife "back home." One woman works as a caregiver for a wealthy woman in New York City while her son lives on the other side of the world; on his rare visits he doesn't seem happy to see her, only interested in finding out what she can buy for him. An illegal immigrant is afraid to go out in case he is carded, so he lives an empty life going only to work and home. Others get trapped in dead-end jobs because their employer keeps their paperwork inaccessible. These are the real tales of immigrants in the US, recorded by a talented new author.
("One More Year" pg 30*)
I've never been a fan of short stories. I've tried to read a few, including some that are praised continuously- such as those by Flannery O'Conner. I could never get into them! There are only a few short pages for the audience to get to know the characters, and it never seems like enough time for me. So even before picking up this book, I was already thinking negatively about it, and I was sure I wasn't going to like it. This was just another collection of short stories that would leave me wondering why I read it in the first place. Well, "One More Year" happily proved me wrong.
Sana Krasikov's book contains eight stories, many of which involve characters from the former Soviet Union, Russia, and/or Georgia. It's oddly fitting that I began to read this book at the same time that Russia invaded Georgia. I was unable to shake that information as I read, and couldn't help but feel an even deeper connection to Krasikov's characters. Krasikov herself grew up in the former of Soviet Republic of Georgia, and I'm sure she wasn't expecting these events to unfold right as her book went on sale.
One of my favorite stories is "Maia in Yonkers" which tells the story of a woman and her son who comes to visit her. To me it starts slow and doesn't really evolve until the son actually arrives, but the interaction between mother and son is fantastic. The ending is perfect, and I wish I could write more about it, but I'll stop now so I don't spoil those who haven't yet read this book.
I would definitely recommend this book. Once a short story hater, I have now been converted! Sana Krasikov's stories draw you in. You feel for her characters, which to me proves that Krasikov has succeeded where many have failed. Pick this one up today!
*these lines may change in the final publication of the book
(Originally reviewed for "Kathleen's Book Reviews")