Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pg. 69: Irina Reyn's "What Happened to Anna K."

Now featured at the Page 69 Test: Irina Reyn's What Happened to Anna K.

About the book, from the publisher:

A mesmerizing debut novel that reimagines Tolstoy's classic tragedy, Anna Karenina, for our time

Vivacious thirty-seven-year-old Anna K. is comfortably married to Alex, an older, prominent businessman from her tight-knit Russian-Jewish immigrant community in Queens. But a longing for freedom is reignited in this bookish, overly romantic, and imperious woman when she meets her cousin Katia Zavurov's boyfriend, an outsider and aspiring young writer on whom she pins her hopes for escape. As they begin a reckless affair, Anna enters into a tailspin that alienates her from her husband, family, and entire world.

In nearby Rego Park's Bukharian-Jewish community, twenty-seven-year-old pharmacist Lev Gavrilov harbors two secret passions: French movies and the lovely Katia. Lev's restless longing to test the boundaries of his sheltered life powerfully collides with Anna's. But will Lev's quest result in life's affirmation rather than its destruction?

Exploring struggles of identity, fidelity, and community, What Happened to Anna K. is a remarkable retelling of the Anna Karenina story brought vividly to life by an exciting young writer.
Among the early praise for the novel:
“Smarter by far than many potentially commercial novels and despite the gimmick at its core, a credible freestanding work on such Tolstoyan topics as love, society, shopping and immigration.”
--Sara Nelson, Publishers Weekly

“Set among early 21st-century Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City, Reyn's debut beautifully adapts Anna Karenina's social melodrama for a decidedly different set of Russians... [her] sparkling insight into the Russian and Bukharan Jewish communities, and the mesmerizing intensity of her prose, make this debut a worthy remake.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Offers wit and insight, and a pungent portrait of New York.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“This witty, psychologically astute and immensely pleasurable novel is something of a miracle. By dint of some divine stubbornness, the author has folded the Tolstoyan paradigm of grandeur and regret into our pettier, shallower age, and illuminated both in the process. I know of no recent first novel that has better captured the way we live now, with as assured a sense of comedy and compassion.”
--Phillip Lopate, author of Waterfront and Portrait of My Body

“Irina Reyn has done the impossible: she has re-imagined one of mankind's very best novels, and made it beautifully her own. That she has not diminished Tolstoy but updated him -- freshened him for the strange, sensuous time in which we live – is as wondrous a feat as I can recall in contemporary fiction.”
--Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and More Than It Hurts You
Read an excerpt from What Happened to Anna K., and learn more about the book and author at Irina Reyn's website.

Irina Reyn is a fiction and nonfiction writer whose work has appeared in anthologies and publications such as The Forward, San Francisco Chronicle, The Moscow Times, Nextbook and Post Road. Born in Moscow, Irina was raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

The Page 69 Test: What Happened to Anna K.

--Marshal Zeringue