This is the second book of short stories I have reviewed recently, and certainly the one I enjoyed the most. This is Sana Krasikov’s first effort, and while it has its problems, it is a very promising beginning.
Krasikov is a Russian writer and this collection of short stories is all about immigrants and their families and struggles. Some are set in the US, some in Russia, but it’s all about parents and children, husbands and wives, the new country and the old country. It reminded me a lot of Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri – also stories about immigrants – but happier and more hopeful. Instead of seeming powerless against their misery, Krasikov’s characters make choices, change directions, and make the best of bad situations.
One of my favorite stories in the collection is “Better Half”: Anya marries Ryan too soon in their relationship, to get her green card more quickly, and when the marriage sours, she finds it hard to let go of him. I felt Krasikov did a great job of capturing all the conflicting feelings of the end of a relationship – the longing to stay together, the drive to be apart, the anger and the fondness and the familiarity. I also enjoyed “Debt”, a story about a couple that has made a happy, prosperous life here in the US, but is struggling with their family ties. The way the couple values what they have together and makes a difficult choice, knowing the consequences, was really touching.
The only thing that keeps this from being a really stellar work is the focus on infidelity. It seems that the women in every story are either having affairs with married men, or their husbands are having affairs, or their husband has a second wife somewhere. The only saving grace is that in at least some cases, the women are able to break out of these bad relationships and change their course.
My copy was an Advanced Reader Copy; you can pre-order your copy here.