From Publishers Weekly
More memoir than fiction, this strangely affecting, frankly autobiographical debut novel is by a young New Yorker who worked during the mid-1990s as a TV consultant based in Moscow, traveling throughout the East teaching Bosnians, Serbs and Tajiks the rudiments of TV production. In 1991, Daniel, a student studying Russian in Leningrad (soon to be renamed St. Petersburg) is seduced by Katya, an aggressively ambitious Russian woman. Panicked by the uncertainty and upheaval after Gorbachev is deposed, Daniel flees to New York with a vague promise to see Katya again. He plans to live with his college dropout younger brother, Cam, and their paralegal mom in her liveryman's cottage in Connecticut, but upon arriving in New York, Daniel decides to sever the umbilical and takes up temporary residence with two female friends in shabby digs in Chinatown. Working for a temp agency, but unable to get Katya off his mind, Daniel eventually manages to phone her and invites her to New York. Safely inside the U.S., the scheming Katya manipulates ineffectual Daniel into marriage, setting in place the legal mechanism of permanent residence. But all is not wedded bliss as Katya seeks solace with fellow Russian expatriates in the outer boroughs and falls in with cult leader Sri Vishnu Brahmaputra. When she leaves for Utah to explore Mormonism, the passive-aggressive Daniel takes a job in Moscow. All these trips back and forth across the country and the Atlantic might have made the novel seem disjointed; instead, they convey the essence of a late-20th-century cross-cultural relationship, never quite on firm ground. This is a truly engaging first effort from a writer of promise. Agent, Jack Horner.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A bittersweet love story set against the collapse of the Soviet Union. Daniel, a young American studying in Leningrad, sleeps with the enigmatic Katya and wonders if her cumbersome and poorly made underwear is "sexy or just Soviet?" He is, as his psychiatrist father phrases it, in his "Russian phase," and a stormy, awkward, and at times poignant relationship begins. He returns to the U.S., finds that his separation from Katya feeds his obsession, and invites her to visit him in New York. They find a small apartment, marry, and live on the proceeds of his temporary jobs. Poverty and "temporary" become the hallmarks of their lives. Searching for religion, she travels to Utah, and as she journeys deep into America, Daniel accepts a job that takes him to Russia, where his idealized views of both that country and Katya clash with the realities he faces. This debut novel offers insight into life's intimate and difficult relationships; communication and cultural differences contribute to the crumbling of Daniel and Katya's brief marriage, as do their unrealistic expectations of one another. Greenberg writes with clarity, compassion, and humor, and the recent history that forms a backdrop for this tale contributes to its relevance.Susanne Bardelson, Arvada Public Library, CO
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.