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Leaving Katya [Kindle Edition]

Paul Greenberg
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $0.99

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Book Description

From their first date on a white night on the Neva, Daniel continually asks himself, "Is Katya sexy or just Soviet?" He questions his instincts, and wonders whether the woman he fell for in Leningrad is the love of his life or just another part of what his father calls the Russia Phase.

Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 319 KB
  • Print Length: 266 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399148353
  • Publisher: Pelagic, Inc. (July 13, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003VS0IQO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,547 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Mollie
This is a slyly funny, moving and articulate book that will ring bells with anyone who has lived abroad in a land they don't quite understand or who has tried to be in a relationship with someone from a very different background. The main character in the book, Daniel (a 20-something recently out of college who is trying to form his career and his identity) hooks up with a Russian woman, Katya, and finds the foreigness right in his own bedroom.
The odd couple ends up getting married (is it love or convenience, or a mix of both?) and writer Paul Greenberg explores the resulting emotional tangle in a way that will make you fondly remember (or cringe over) your first really intense love affair. This book is a must-read.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Russian: more of a diagnosis than a nationality" May 23, 2002
By A Customer
I must offer my congratulations to Paul Greenberg, who had a good material for a novel, and persevered through the years to complete its writing. The conception of a personal novel, "Leaving Katya", undoubtedly must have been a daunting task, a catharsis for the author, a fact willingly admitted by the author himself. That said, the novel is quite a surprise for a Slavic reader with American experiences like myself. The source of the surprise is that Paul Greenberg managed to nail quite a few essential barriers that divide the Russians from the Americans, or the Slavs from the Anglo-Saxons, as we may venture to say without a substantial loss of generality. At one point, late in the novel, the protagonist confesses that to take Russia out of him is as possible as changing his (weak) character. "Leaving Katya" is a story about two incompatible people who are thrust upon each other by the cruel hand of Fate. Thus begins the long-standing Daniel's infatuation with Mother Russia, aroused by his personal experiences with his newlywed Yekaterina Konstantinova, but not surprisingly, strengthened and firmly instituted or, to apply a better phrase, institutionalized by his numerous visits to the falling Soviet Union and then Russian Federation.
Short as this novel is, it merely skims portions of the surface of the complex relationship between Russian émigrés and America, American impressions of Russia, Russian impressions of America, and the idiosyncrasy of both lands. Nevertheless, since no deep analysis seems to have been the aim of the author, one cannot hold this fact against him and his novel. The modest goal of "Leaving Katya" is to provide a personal insight into the inevitable clash of cultures.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The brightest colors April 15, 2002
Leaving Katya by Paul Greenberg is a very funny but sensitive account of a young man's first real adventure in love. The object of his affections happens to be from the Soviet Union/Russia which provides the perfect metaphor for the strangeness, the foreigness that can sometimes be both the raison d'etre and the bette noire of romance. No place feels more foreign to Daniel, the book's hero, or more compelling. There is something recognizable and strangely comforting about the Russia phase and the affair with Katya. As someone who lived in Russia for several years, I often felt I was living in a country whose history followed the trajectory a giant mood swing, where emotions were the brightest colors in a grey reality. Daniel struggles for the most part with himself , how to appreciate both what is recognizable and what is foreign in another person and isn't that what love is all about, after all? A wonderfully written, charming and brave account with an authentic feel for the culture and people of the Former Soviet Union.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anna Karenina with a hint of Woody Allen February 15, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm normally not a fan of love stories, but this novel is so funny and poignant, I felt compelled to weigh in with my thoughts. The author's insight into his characters -- both Russian and American -- is so sharp that when I put the book down I still felt they were in the room. The comedy and tragedy of the romance between the sweet, neurotic Daniel and the quixotic Katya holds you to the very last page and beyond. Excuse the pun, but after reading this work, it's extremely hard to leave Katya behind.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Russian Hooker April 6, 2002
Leaving Katya is a poignant memoir of a young American's struggle with his Russian girlfriend (and later, temporarily, his wife). This short and entertaining story is both funny and sad, a bittersweet lesson on the difficulties in a cross-cultural relationship.
As someone who has gone through his own "Russian Phase," I can only say that author Paul Greenberg has done a wonderful job of presenting the enigmatic and mysterious nature of these magnificent women. The Russian culture encourages their young women to trade sex and affection for monetary and social gain. Many of these women have tremendous educations that go for naught in the chauvinistic Russian society. I would agree that it's not so much the fault of the Russian women but of their environment. But a spade is a spade, and a hooker is a hooker.
When these common opportunists get a chance to cash in over here in America, they can become relentless. It's like turning a starving kid loose in a candy store. Of course, these young gold diggers don't see it that way, which creates the cultural problem faced by Greenberg's young protagonist.
Katya could never come to grips with the abject poverty she unexpectedly faced when she came to New York to live with Daniel. It was gratifying to see that Daniel actually became quite successful after Katya decamped for Russia. I guess there is justice after all.
Greenberg's dialogue, his situations, his settings and his sense of Russian history are all believable and accurate. I live in New York City and can assure you that he captured the essence of our great metropolis perfectly. And Greenberg adheres to the literary Holy Grail by writing about what he knows. All this goes to make his story credible and instructional.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
As an American man in a relationship with a Russian woman, I loved this book. It was insightful and captured the nuances of the Russian feminine spirit better than anything I've... Read more
Published on July 9, 2012 by Patrick Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel changed my life
I read this novel around 2001. I had a Russian girlfriend at the time, who lived in the US. I was at a loss to figure her out and wondered why. Read more
Published on May 5, 2012 by C A Release
3.0 out of 5 stars Good First Novel
I just finished this novel/memoir and I definitely think that it's a good read for those interested in Russia and relationships with people from foreign countries. Read more
Published on February 20, 2007 by Debra A. Dycaico
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever!
Leaving Katya is the best and only book in the western literature that manage to uncover mystery of russian soul, more than that - russian women soul. Read more
Published on November 22, 2002 by Irena
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting romantic (or maybe not...) story
I must confess that it has been a long time since I read a book by a male author. So it amused me that there was sex in the very first sentence. Read more
Published on August 13, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Sly, Engaging Look at a Russian-American Love Affair
Wow! Paul Greenberg's splendid literary debut is the best I've read from a fellow Brown alumnus who didn't concentrate in literature or writing. Read more
Published on June 25, 2002 by John Kwok
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting American/Russian perspective piece.
Russophiles will enjoy this novel--- those not so interested in Russia and its people might not find it as interesting. The novel is well-written, albeit a bit vague. Read more
Published on June 13, 2002 by "bookboarder"
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much of a novel.
OK, I know this story first hand, literally. I was stunned by the author's grasp of the details, of his ability to state bluntly the utter banality of so many of the things... Read more
Published on April 29, 2002 by Jon L. Albee
5.0 out of 5 stars a novel that is close to life
this is a novel that breathes life, almost as a real diary of an evolving relationship. i could not put it down, and was admiring of paul's sparing, sometimes haunting prose and... Read more
Published on April 16, 2002
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