With epic breadth and intimate detail, Ludmila Ulitskaya’s remarkable work tells the story of three school friends who meet in Moscow in the 1950s and go on to embody the heroism, folly, compromise, and hope of the Soviet dissident experience. These three boys---an orphaned poet, a gifted yet fragile pianist, and a budding photographer with a talent for collecting secrets---struggle to reach adulthood in a society where their heroes have been censored and exiled.
Rich with love stories, intrigue, and a cast of dissenters and spies, The Big Green Tent offers a panoramic survey of life after Stalin and a dramatic investigation into the possibilities for individual integrity in a society defined by the KGB. Each of the central characters seeks to transcend an oppressive regime through art, a love of Russian literature, and activism. And each of them ends up face-to-face with a secret police that is highly skilled at provoking paranoia, division, and self-betrayal. Ludmila Ulitskaya’s novel ultimately belongs to the tradition of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pasternak: it is a work consumed with politics, love, and belief---and a discovery of light in dark times.
August 1991. In a sweltering New York City apartment, a group of Russian émigrés gathers round the deathbed of an artist named Alik, a charismatic character beloved by them all, especially the women who take turns nursing him as he fades from this world. Their reminiscences of the dying man and of their lives in Russia are punctuated by debates and squabbles: Whom did Alik love most? Should he be baptized before he dies, as his alcoholic wife, Nina, desperately wishes, or be reconciled to the faith of his birth by a rabbi who happens to be on hand? And what will be the meaning for them of the Yeltsin putsch, which is happening across the world in their long-lost Moscow but also right before their eyes on CNN?
This marvelous group of individuals inhabits the first novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya to be published in English, a book that was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and has been praised wherever translated editions have appeared. Simultaneously funny and sad, lyrical in its Russian sorrow and devastatingly keen in its observation of character, The Funeral Party introduces to our shores a wonderful writer who captures, wryly and tenderly, our complex thoughts and emotions confronting life and death, love and loss, homeland and exile.
Medea Georgievna Sinoply Mendez is an iconic figure in her Crimean village, the last remaining pure-blooded Greek in a family that has lived on that coast for centuries. Childless Medea is the touchstone of a large family, which gathers each spring and summer at her home. There are her nieces (sexy Nike and shy Masha), her nephew Georgii (who shares Medea’s devotion to the Crimea), and their friends. In this single summer, the languor of love will permeate the Crimean air, hearts will be broken, and old memories will float to consciousness, allowing us to experience not only the shifting currents of erotic attraction and competition, but also the dramatic saga of this family amid the forces of dislocation, war, and upheaval of twentieth-century Russian life.