The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner

The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner: Um. Well, this takes place in post-Soviet Russia, and is more or less about three widows – an Eastern Orthodox Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew – who all live in the same condemned apartment building with their children. Christian Lukeria torments her overweight granddaughter Tanya who spends a lot of her time obsessing over clouds and colors; Muslim Azade learns people’s secrets by smelling their excrement and worries over where she went wrong with her son Vitek; Jewish Olga frets over the fate of her idiot son Yuri and his selfish girlfriend Zoya. Also, there’s a gaggle of feral children running around. The book begins with the suicide of Mircha, Azade’s husband, whose ghost shows up soon after to cause mischief. Much of the actual plot revolves around the local museum where Yuri, Zoya, and Tanya all work. None of the exhibits are originals, and in fact most were created by Tanya herself out of candy wrappers and glue. However, when the possibility arises of a grant from some wealthy Americans, the entire apartment building is in a tizzy. The ending is happy – more or less – though it feels forced and borders on deus ex machina. This is the sort of novel where you have to just absorb things as they come and not approach it expecting some sort of coherent storyline. Mostly it’s about a group of characters, and much of the book is spent explaining their personalities, motivations, and histories. And that’s usually fine by me, except that this time around everyone was so exceptionally screwed up that I couldn’t muster the least bit of sympathy for any of them. Perhaps another reader would find it darkly humorous but mostly I was just glad when it was over.

Also posted on BookCrossing.
Read as part of the Books Won Reading Challenge.

  1. Given that I’m an American living in Ukraine, the title intrigued me, but I can see from your review that you weren’t particularly impressed by the book. Plus, what’s the use of reading books about screwed up people. Thanks and congrats for making silver this past year.

    Coleen
    s-b, blog comment swap

  2. Ok, following on twitter. Check out my blog if you would: http://vintageterrace2.blogspot.com/
    I also have a Facebook craft page: vintageterrace2

    Cheers,

    Coleen
    s-b, blog comment swap

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