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"A beautiful, far-ranging voice equally at home on both sides of the Atlantic … Anya Ulinich's satiric romp gives new meaning to the word 'bittersweet."
– Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan
"Petropolis offers a moving account of a perpetual outsider's desire to belong, both to her family and to the wide, weird world she encounters with a sometimes weary heart and plenty of chutzpah."
– USA Today
"It's refreshing ... to see something like a new American dream appear in Anya Ulinich's first novel, Petropolis. Here, it's no longer a matter of material success, or even educational opportunities, but about finding a place for one's misfit heart. ... Ulinich has a wry sense of the absurd that usually turns the commonplace on its head. ... At each turn, Sasha's role becomes something new: a fellow Russian, a big black girl to be feared, and first and foremost a Jew. The absurdity of these preconceptions, and the freedom to escape from them, is what shapes Ulinich's narrative and what forms its great optimism. No matter how out of place you might feel, there's surely a place for you somewhere."
– Andrea Thompson for the San Francisco Chronicle Click here to read the entire review in the SF Chronicle!
"Ulinich has a great eye and ear for the weird details of Soviet scarcity and American plenty."
– The Boston Globe
"Petropolis serves two masters. One is a coming-of-age story in which Sasha makes her way from Asbestos 2 to Brooklyn and eventually finds love and defines her own place in the world. The other is a satire, a relentless catalog of absurdities, human and otherwise, of Russian and American society. ... Ulinich has a knack for the tragicomic ... One gets the sense that [her] artistic impulses are split between a generosity of spirit and an unforgiving wit. It's her spirit that comes through in the end. ... Petropolis is engaging, funny and genuinely moving in all the right places. It is a sparkling debut, a unique comic novel of Homo post-Sovieticus. In negotiating the territory between coming-of-age and satire, the novel risks a great deal and succeeds, thanks in no small part to Ulinich's storytelling skills and pitch-perfect sense of the bittersweet."
– Antoine Wilson for the Los Angeles Times Click here to read the entire review in the LA Times!
"When a coming-of-age novel is truly different, it can send shock waves through unsuspecting readers. This brave blend of satire, farce, and heart-wrenching realism delivers the necessary voltage to do just that ... Ulinich plays this absurdist immigrant's journey for all its black-comedic potential, but she never loses sight of Sasha's bedrock humanity. Her triumphs are attenuated at every turn by lingering levels of despair, but her ability to find a pulse of life in even the most outrageous turns of fortune lifts the novel as far beyond parody as it is beyond convention."
– Bill Ott for Booklist (starred review)
"... not many novels take us to ugly but exotic Siberian towns, or even to ugly, exotic Arizona sprawl, let alone to millionaires' Chicago fantasias. This young heroine has sharp vision and a pragmatic view of life's difficulties -- together with a pointed sense of irony. Sasha will get by -- that seems certain -- and it seems equally certain that Anya Ulinich will be back."
– Alice Turner for the Washington Post
"The day will come when not every young Russian expatriate seems blessed with the gift of the gab. But as long as precocious writers like Anya Ulinich keep rushing into print, we'll have to assume there's some trace element in the bloodlines, some post-Chernobyl mutation, that gives their English-language novels such power and presence. Petropolis, Ulinich's first book, possesses many of the look-at-me extremes that make youthful, post-Soviet fiction stand out from the crowd: raucous yet melancholy, casually smart and knowingly superficial, sensitive to an extreme but also hardened to the realities of survival."
– John Allemang for the Globe and Mail Click here to read the entire review in the Globe and Mail!
"In Anya Ulinich's Petropolis, Russian immigrant Sasha Goldberg is given a tip. "Maybe you shouldn't try to split your childhood memories from the rest of your life," a friend tells her. "Maybe people our age have to resign themselves to living in the world, not in a town." Yet becoming a citizen of the world is no simple matter in this impressive first novel, which examines the immigrant experience in a fresh and winsome way. ... he success of Petropolis relies on our empathy for Sasha, and what is remarkable about this heroine is how little Ulinich sentimentalizes her. ... Petropolis is rich with black humor, acerbic wit and a charm entirely free from the preciousness that accompanies so many coming-of-age stories. Ulinich is best when she digs below the surface of satire to probe the pain, ambivalence and cynicism of the acculturation process. ... Ulinich demonstrates an astute understanding of the immigrant's role in contemporary America."
– Irina Reyn for the Moscow Times Click here to read the entire review in the Moscow Times!
"Audacious, clever and lively, Petropolis abounds in precise and pointed descriptions, rapid-fire dialogue and unpredictable interactions among intriguing characters. As Sasha embarks on her unplanned odyssey, well-timed flashbacks provide the back story for each outlandish episode."
– Donna Seaman for the Chicago Tribune
"... Anya Ulinich's novel about this not-quite-black, not-quite-Jewish, chubby misfit from Siberia is captivating. And the observations ... whew."
– Jane Magazine
"Add Ulinich to the roster of talented contemporary writers of Russian background, such as Gary Shteyngart, David Bezmozgis and Lara Vapynar. Skilled at satire but not limited by it, they deftly perform that delicate maneuver by which humor can break your heart."
– Carole Goldberg for the Hartford Courant Click here to read the entire review in the Hartford Courant!
"First-time novelist Ulinich, who emigrated to the United States at 17 ... received an MFA in painting, and boy, does it show. Her USSR and USA are awash in colors and images prismed through an alien sensibility, then focused by literary art ... Sneakily, Petropolis turns out to be the coming-of-age story of a less-than-promising protagonist - which of course makes it all the more affecting. That Ulinich, a native Russian speaker, wrote the novel in such assured, glass-like English, however, makes it somewhat annoying: Where does she get off, anyway? You'd think she was a member of the intelligentsia or something."
– Arthur Salm for The San Diego Union Tribune Click here to read the entire review in the Tribune!
"How did she do it? Anya Ulinich has written — and in a second language, no less — a smashing debut, at once a deeply moving coming-of-age odyssey and a globe-spanning satire of societies gone desperately and hilariously awry. I loved Petropolis for its bone-dry humor, eye-popping authenticity, and vividly realized characters. Most of all, I loved Sasha Goldberg. Through its darkest and most comic moments, this book made me very, very happy."
– Katherine Shonk, author of The Red Passport
"This I promise: you'll hear more from Anya Ulinich. With Petropolis, her first novel, the Moscow-born and Brooklyn-based author deploys pitch-perfect American English to deliver a story that is quintessentially Russian. Deliciously wry yet meltingly tender, her debut demands dust-jacket superlatives–and in Sasha Goldberg, Ulinich has invented a protagonist whose further adventures could happily fill a series of additional volumes."
– The Georgia Straight (Vancouver's News and Entertainment Weekly)
Like much of Russian literature, Petropolis is stuffed with a cast of colorful characters who swirl around Sasha as she works her way painfully toward both self-knowledge and a better life. This novel, as do most good ones, leaves readers feeling they've accompanied the protagonist on a rewarding journey, while still wondering what lies ahead for her."
– Harvey Freedenberg for Bookpage
"Petropolis bursts with artful details of an immigrant's peripathetic youth and quest for home - the grappling for the strong woman inside a lost girl."
– Lisa Teasley for Ms. Magazine
"A dark irresistible comedy with an authentic Russian voice."
– Martin Cruz Smith, author of Gorky Park and Stalin's Ghost
"Breathily entertaining ... textured characters and heartfelt narrative will leave you pondering the unexpected connections that create a family and the faraway places that we end up calling home"
– BUST Magazine
"Petropolis is a real feast of sharp wit, quirky characters and amazing situations."
– Lara Vapnyar, author of Memoirs of a Muse and There Are Jews in My House
"For a girl from a bleak Siberian town, Ulinich's protagonist Sasha Goldberg has a surprisingly big heart and a hysterical view of life in America. Petropolis is a compassionate and unusual debut."
– Laura Dave, author of London is the Best City in America
"… Anya Ulinich's Petropolis did all of the things you hope a novel will do: It moved me, it made me laugh, it kept me constantly entertained. Petropolis was a constant joy to read — and almost unbearable to put down. Ulinich has a classically sardonic, Eastern European tone. Comparisons do it no justice. Read it for yourself — you will not be disappointed. The inhabitants of the town Asbestos 2 will linger in your mind long after you've turned the final page …."
– Pauls Toutonghi, author of Red Weather
"In the wonderfully spirited Petropolis, Anya Ulinich has given us impossible-not-to-love Sasha Goldberg. Her astonishing journey — from Siberian misfit to mail-order bride to Brooklyn mom — is nothing short of epic."
– Elisa Albert, author of How This Night is Different
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