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Aetherial Worlds: Book summary and reviews of Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya

Aetherial Worlds

Stories

by Tatyana Tolstaya

Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya X
Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya
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  • Published Mar 2018
    256 pages
    Genre: Short Stories

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Book Summary

From one of modern Russia's finest writers, a spellbinding collection of eighteen stories, her first to be translated into English in more than twenty years.

Ordinary realities and yearnings to transcend them lead to miraculous other worlds in this dazzling collection of stories. A woman's deceased father appears in her dreams with clues about the afterlife; a Russian professor in a small American town constructs elaborate fantasies during her cigarette break; a man falls in love with a marble statue as his marriage falls apart; a child glimpses heaven through a stained-glass window. With the emotional insight of Chekhov, the surreal satire of Gogol, and a unique blend of humor and poetry all her own, Tolstaya transmutes the quotidian into aetherial alternatives.

These tales, about politics, identity, love, and loss, cut to the core of the Russian psyche, even as they lay bare human universals. Tolstaya's characters - seekers all - are daydreaming children, lonely adults, dislocated foreigners in unfamiliar lands. Whether contemplating the strategic complexities of delivering telegrams in Leningrad or the meditative melancholy of holiday aspic, vibrant inner lives and the grim elements of existence are registered in equally sharp detail in a starkly bleak but sympathetic vision of life on earth.

A unique collection from one of the first women in years to rank among Russia's most important writers.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"After reading the stellar opening stories in Aetherial Worlds, I thought I'd be able to recommend it to BookBrowse readers, but the longer stories in the middle became a slog, especially the one that reads like a long tirade of student reviews against professors."

Other Reviews
"Starred and Boxed Review. These uniformly masterful stories reject any attempt at easy categorization, resulting in a profound, surprising, and rich experience." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Elegant, lyrical tales woven with melancholy and world-weariness - but also with a curious optimism. A gem." - Kirkus

"To read Tolstaya is simply to be wild about her. Read 'Aspic' and be forever changed. 'The Square,' too. Her work possesses an irreverent tactile holiness." - Joy Williams, author of The Visiting Privilege

"Call off the search for Tatyana Tolstaya's origins among the Russian greats: There's no one like her anywhere, then or now. She is a writer of breathtaking originality, boldness and importance." - Thomas McGuane, author of Crow Fair

This information about Aetherial Worlds was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Tatyana Tolstaya

Tatyana Tolstaya lives in Moscow. For twelve years, she was the co-host of The School for Scandal, a popular talk show on Russian television covering culture and politics. She is also the co-founder of a creative writing academy in there. She has written for The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. Five of her books, including her novel The Slynx, have been translated into English.

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