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Good Citizens Need Not Fear Summary and Reviews

Good Citizens Need Not Fear

by Maria Reva

Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva X
Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2020
    224 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

A brilliant and bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single crumbling apartment building in Ukraine.

A bureaucratic glitch omits an entire building, along with its residents, from municipal records. So begins Reva's ingeniously intertwined narratives, nine stories that 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 amid 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] hilarious, absurdist debut collection…Reva delights in the strange situations caused by political dysfunction, while offering surprising notes of tenderness as ordinary people learn to get by. The riotous set pieces and intelligent gaze make this an auspicious debut." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Reva is clearly a talent to watch: Her prose has a neat efficiency, and her stories are as memorable as they are unique. The world Reva creates slips fluidly from the surreal to the absurd to the grittily realistic." - Kirkus Reviews

"[A] witty first collection...Reva's tales effortlessly converge, offering well-honed portraits of her characters' realities, sensibilities, and urgencies." - Booklist

"Creative, poignant, and darkly hilarious, Good Citizens Need Not Fear is full of relevant questions about resistance, corruption, and maintaining dignity against the dehumanizing power of the State. This is an outstanding first book." - Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See

"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." - Miriam Toews, author of Women Talking

"Luminous. These stories speak with humour yet real emotion of the heaviness of totalitarian systems and show how the light of our humanity still shines through. Terrific stuff." - Yann Martel, author of Man Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi

"Dazzling...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

The information about Good Citizens Need Not Fear shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Maria Reva

Maria Reva was born in Ukraine and grew up in Canada. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center at the University of Texas. Her fiction has appeared in the Atlantic, McSweeney's, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere, and has won a National Magazine Award. She also works as an opera librettist.

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