dehner: new worlds

World Lit Rec #2

Uploaded with Snapbucket Broken Glass Park
by Alina Bronsky

Countries represented: Russian author, German setting

How I found this book: Barnes & Noble's website recommended it to me (btw, I think B&N's recs are *way* better than Amazon's)

Review: If good characterization is your literary turn-on, you will love this book. If you like reading about strong, flawed women, you will also love this book. Actually, if you love good books, I think you will love this book. Sasha, the teenage narrator, is blunt, snarky, independent, and hard not to love. Her mother was shot to death by her abusive husband, and Sasha, always the family caretaker, wants revenge. But this is no Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; exacting bloody vengeance on a man who's already in prison is hard, especially if you're a sixteen-year-old girl with two younger siblings to look after. There's no easy outlet for Sasha's anger or sadness, and the book is really about her slow journey to accepting her mother's death. This is an unflinchingly honest book; you'll have to read some graphic depictions of abuse, violence, and attempted rape as well as several scenes where Sasha's self-destructive behavior is unappealing. Yet, I loved Sasha even more because she's so hard-nosed and uncompromising, and even if I didn't love everything she did, I thought her reactions were realistic for a young girl who had experienced such a heavy loss. She's one of those characters whom I think about often and even kind of miss, even months after I finished reading the book.

The world lit factor: Sasha is a Russian immigrant who lives in a public housing project in Germany. This was a slice of German life I hadn't been exposed to before, and the book addresses some anti-immigrant prejudices as well as the socioeconomic disparities between Sasha and her much wealthier classmates. Although the "immigrant experience" is integral to the book, the real focus is the violence in Sasha's family, which seems like it could have happened anywhere.

This is the second rec from my project to read a book from every country in the world.
It is definitely one of the best books I read last year. It has some plotting problems I think, but the wonderful protagonist definitely overshadowed them.
Fascinating book! The local library even has the original so I'm already looking forward to reading it. :D

I am particularly interested in how it compares to "Kristina, vergiss nicht" by Willi Fährmann, a rather well-known German YA author. That one is about a girl with German forefathers, whose grandma finally makes her dream come true and migrates the family to Germany from Poland. Once in Germany, they realise everything is not as ideal as it seems and once again, they're "the foreigners". I liked it as a teenager but I'm curious how it compares to someone writing closer to their own experiences.
Ooh, that's exciting! You'll have to tell me what you think of it. I hope you love it as much as I did.

That sounds like an interesting book too - I'll have to check whether it's available in English. While we're talking about German literature, do you have any recs? Other than the book in this post, I think all the German literature I've read was about the Holocaust/WWII. I'd like to read something set in contemporary Germany too.
Hm, I'll have to comb through my diaries to look for German books to rec. Honestly, most of what I read is in English these days and there's the complication that many German books are not translated into English... Thank you for your interest, I'll be back in a few days. ;-)