Photo credit: BBC News
In “Map of the City” the narrator is in some ways a typical Midwestern college-age girl. She’s trying to find her place, fit in, navigate relationships with men, learning how to become her own, independent person, but Laken adds the complexity of Moscow in 1991 to the mix. The young woman is a foreign exchange student, just when the Soviet Union is collapsing. We get an inside view of the riots and the economic hardships, but the narrator is still separate. It’s not her country, not her language, no matter how hard she tries to fit in.
I liked how Laken let us see the woman’s relationships honestly. She’s not in love with the men in her life, but she enjoys their company. The writing is wonderful, descriptive and authentic, seeing a truly historical time through the lens of one woman’s experience.
“Map of the City” is included in Separate Kingdoms by Valerie Laken, which you can purchase on Amazon or from an Indie bookstore. I read it on-line at Fifty-Two Stories.
4 out of 5 stars
Published April 1, 2011 by Harper Perennial
Story source: On-line
Short Story Monday is hosted at Book Mine Set.
I love the way you read so many different kinds of books…you make me want to, too…
I like the sound of it, mostly cos of when and where it takes place
Sounds like a really interesting backdrop and time period for a book. I like how you pointed out that the narrator is “in some ways a typical Midwestern college-age girl”. I suppose this is more contemporary than historical fiction, but I love when political events of the past are told in novels from the perspective of a character who is easy to relate to. It always makes me think about how I would have lived/thrived/reacted during the setting.
I probably would have taken the first plane home, and missed it all.
LOL – true, true.
This sounds like a different take on a travel journal – I like it!
I’m not sure if it was semi-autobiographical or not. I think the author did spend time in Moscow during that period.
I haven’t heard of this one before but it sounds like something I might like. Glad it was a good read for you.
I love the recent historical setting of this novel as I can still recall the drama of the period (Gorbachev shunted aside, the old KGB guard taking a last stand and Yeltsin leading the way for a new Russia). Sounds like a wonderful read!
I hardly ever read short stories although I have enjoyed them from time to time. I clicked the link and read the description of the book. It sounds like something I would enjoy.