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15 November 2018


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Maidenhair

By Mikhail Shishkin

MAIDENHAIR (Mikhail Shishkin, translated by Marian Schwartz; Open Letter, $17.95) is not an easy book, given its disconnected, complex style. It is comprised of overlapping, intersecting and cross-pollinating stories and narratives – interviews with asylum seekers in Switzerland, personal memories, biographical notes and journals of a singer on whom the author is penning a biography – and historical readings on Greek myths and the Persian War. Shishkin said the book takes place “everywhere and always.” His insights into the human condition are profound and his beautiful prose is some of the best being written by a Russian. This challenging work is easily worth the effort.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: July/Aug 2013