Amazon Best of the Month, August 2008
: With her fresh reinvention of Anna Karenina
, Irina Reyn finds her tragic heroine in the Russian-Jewish immigrants of New York's outer boroughs. As in the Tolstoy, an impetuous woman wasting in a sterile marriage succumbs to a destined-for-disaster love affair with a dashing young man, and is bitterly condemned by a society fraught with hypocrisy; like citizens of19th-century Russia, modern-day Bukharians don't take kindly to wifely infidelity. With an ear for witty dialogue and a knack for imagery both sharp and sensuous, Reyn gives a pixel-perfect depiction of Anna's world. Those caught in her undertow are equally multidimensional, most with their own struggles between loyalty to self and longing for community acceptance. Even those who haven't experienced Tolstoy will be rapt. --Mari Malcolm
From 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. Anna, 30-something with a string of bad relationships behind her and a restless, literarily inclined soul, is wooed into marriage by the financial stability and social appropriateness of Alex K., an older businessman with roots in her Rego Park, Queens, community. As Anna chafes at her unromantic life, trouble hits in the form of David, the hipster-writer boyfriend of her sweet, naïve cousin, Katia. The furiously flying sparks between Anna and David provide cover as Katia is quietly pursued by Lev, a young Bukharan Jew who, like Anna, is a dreamer whose relationship with the émigré community is fraught. Reyn's Anna is perhaps even harder to sympathize with than Tolstoy's original, but Reyn's sparkling insight into the Russian and Bukharan Jewish communities, and the mesmerizing intensity of her prose, make this debut a worthy remake. Lev's and Anna's divergent trajectories and choices illuminate how perilous the balance between self and society remains. (Aug.)
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