The heroines range from a wide-eyed child to a 95-year-old sculptress in love with a man sixty years her junior, a noblewoman adrift in Moscow to an old lady forgotten in an abandoned village, from a gynaecologist to a fairytale princess. Meet the women writers of Russia in the 1990s, Maria Arbatova, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Dina Rubina, Larissa Miller, Irina Muravyova, Nina Gabrielyan, and Irina Polyanskaya as they write about women unflinchingly facing up to a world of illness, old age, death, madness, and men.
Maria Arbatova, born in 1957, is a dramatist, novellist, essayist and a leading activist in the feminist movement in Russia.
"Erica Jong of Russian literature" The Moscow Times
"Arbatova's two selections are reason enough to read this collection of Glas." WORLD LITERATURE TODAY
Irina Polianskaya, born in 1952 in the Urals, is an actress by training and later graduated from the Literary Institute in Moscow. She has been widely published in literary journals, has several books to her credit, and has been included in many collections of Russian women's writing published in translation abroad.
"Her prose shows a special sensitivity to the significance of a given moment or gesture, conveyed via metaphore." Prof. Helena Goscillo
Ludmila Petrushevskaya, born in 1938, a Muscovite, was originally known as a dramatist. Her sombre and unusual plays were highly popular among dissident-minded intellectuals in the 1970s and 80s.
"Told in an intimate, loose, over-the-back-fence style, this is an alternately funny and desperate book a welcome introduction to a strong talent." Kirkus Review
"The Time Night is one of the most powerful books on poverty that has ever been written." Amazon.com
"One of the finest living Russian writers... Her signature black humor and matter-of-fact prose result in an insightful and sympathetic portrait of a family in crisis." Publishers Weekly
"The writing is beautifully controlled and the spirit large... She deserves a wide readership." TLS
"Petrushevskaya takes the reader on an unforgettable journey into the domestic hell where there is too little of everything: too little food, too little space, too little love. The Time Night provides a memorable glimpse into the dark side of life. Written in a stark, naturalistic style, the book brings the reader face to face with the harsh reality of life in Russia. It is not often a pleasant site, but it is one well worth the trouble." The Moscow Times
Nina Gabrielyan, born in 1953, an Armenian living in Moscow, writes poetry and prose in beautiful Russian. She is a famous activist in the emerging feminist movement in Russia.
"The reader is immediately infected with Gabrielyan's happy amazement at the wonders of the world which she sees everywhere. Moving from the real into the surreal she invites the reader to accompany her into these two realities, which eventually turn out to be one and the same where the magic and the mundane merge, a reality that may at times be tragic and ridiculous but is invariably exciting." NLO
Dina Rubina was born in 1953 in Tashkent (Central Asia), where she graduated from a special school for musically gifted children and then the conservatory with a major in piano.
"Rubina creates a fictional world permeated by a sense of human tolerance and sympathy in the face of inevitable error, frailty, and conflict." Helena Goscilo, in Dictionary of Russian Women Writers
"Truth is everywhere, and the artist spends his whole life digging for it like a prospector, grain by grain...." This quote from the novel could be the epigraph to Upper Maslovka, a story of a complex love-hate relationship between a strong-willed 95-year-old sculptress with an exceptional zest for life and a misfit stage director 50 years her junior. As the story unfolds you realize that the iron old lady is not attached to her room-mate as an adopted relative but she is actually passionately in love with him as a man. They fight almost all the time but remain inseparable and psychologically dependent on each other. In the end the old woman dies of pneumonia, despite the man's heroic efforts to save her life, thus leaving him disoriented and without a purpose in life. His social impotence is shown as a result of social circumstances and is in sharp contrast to the irrepressible vitality of his octogenarian girl friend. The novel offers an interesting insight into Moscow's artistic mileu (Upper Maslovka Street is famous for its artists' studios) as well as into an artist's psychology. The old lady's brilliant and biting wit sums up people and events around her making the novel entertaining and informative reading.