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Good Citizens Need Not Fear

Maria Reva

3 Reviews

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Short stories

A brilliant and bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single, crumbling apartment building in Ukraine that heralds the arrival of a major new talent and is already gathering fantastic reviews: 'Reva is a miracle writer . . . You've never read anything like [these stories]' Elizabeth McCracken, author of

Bowlaway

A brilliant and bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single, crumbling apartment building in Ukraine that heralds the arrival of a major new talent.

A bureaucratic glitch omits an entire building, along with its residents, from municipal records. So begins Reva's ingeniously intertwined narratives, nine stories which span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union. But even as the benighted denizens of 1933 Ivansk Street weather the official neglect of the increasingly powerless authorities, they devise ingenious ways to survive.

In 'Bone Music', an agoraphobic recluse survives by selling contraband LPs, mapping the vinyl grooves of illegal Western records into stolen x-ray film. A delusional secret service agent in 'Letter of Apology' becomes convinced he's being covertly recruited to guard Lenin's tomb, just as his parents, not seen since he was a small child, supposedly were. Weaving the narratives together is the unforgettable, chameleon-like Zaya: a cleft-lipped orphan in 'Little Rabbit', a beauty-pageant crasher in 'Miss USSR', a sadist-for-hire to the Eastern bloc's newly minted oligarchs in 'Homecoming'.

Good Citizens Need Not Fear tacks from moments of intense paranoia to surprising tenderness and back again, exploring what it is to be an individual amidst the roiling forces of history. Inspired by her and her family's own experiences in Ukraine, Reva brings the black absurdism of early Shteyngart and the sly interconnectedness of Anthony Marra's Tsar of Love and Techno to a collection that is as clever as it is heartfelt.

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Praise for Good Citizens Need Not Fear

  • Good Citizens Need Not Fear is the funniest, most politically astute book I've read in years. Reva's pitch perfect tone - especially at that comic junction where the absurdity of a system rigged to control human beings collides with actual humans - is bang-on brilliant

  • Reva is a miracle writer . . . You've never read anything like [these stories] - Elizabeth McCracken, author of Bowlaway

  • Reading this dazzling story collection, I discovered it's possible to have your heart broken while laughing loud enough to wake the baby two doors down the hall. With their big, delightful dollops of surrealism and absurdity, these stories conjure up from the old Soviet-era Ukraine a world that feels, with its hall-of-mirrors twists and torques, uncannily--alarmingly!--on point and up-to-date. Good Citizens Need Not Fear marks the beginning of what is sure to be a long, strong career for the brilliant Maria Reva - Ben Fountain, author of BILLY LYNN S LONG HALFTIME WALK

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