By Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Translated by Marian Schwartz
From Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Russia’s greatest living absurdist and surrealistic writer and New York Times bestseller: traditional family drama meet burlesque social satire, enveloped in a Bollywood soap-opera plot.
Publication Date: 4/25/23
Set in the 1980s and '90s, Kidnapped focuses on the life of Alina, a promising language student who must drop her academic career because of an unplanned pregnancy. Alina decides to give up a baby for adoption after birth and is set to leave the hospital alone. In the hospital she meets another girl, Masha, who is happily looking forward to the childbirth and speaks up of her life plans with the husband in a republic in South Asia.
When Masha dies in childbirth, Alina impulsively exchanges the babies' name bracelets in an attempt to send her newborn son away from the dull reality of Soviet life. But then the unthinkable happens: Masha's husband asks Alina to falsify her identity and come with him in the foreign service. Full of twists and turns, Kidnapped results in a drama worthy of a daytime soap opera: medical deceit, identity scams, and falsified death abound. Despite it all, Alina survives against all odds in unthinkable circumstances, sure above all that she will learn to be a good mother.
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya was born in 1938 in Moscow, where she still lives. She is the author of more than fifteen collections of prose, including the New York Times-bestseller There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales (2009), which won a World Fantasy Award and was one of New York Magazine’s Ten Best Books of the Year and one of NPR’s Five Best Works of Foreign Fiction, and There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories (2013). A singular force in modern Russian fiction, she is also a playwright whose work has been staged by leading theater companies all over the world. In 2002 she received Russia’s most prestigious prize, the Triumph, for lifetime achievement. Marian Schwartz is a prizewinning translator of Russian literature. She is the principal translator of the works of Nina Berberova, Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, and others.
"The best novel of the year, in every page there’s more wit and talent than in the whole contemporary Russian prose, everyone forgive me. Written with much physiology, humor, the novel is at times scaring, always fascinating and precise from a playwright’s perspective." —Dmitry Bykov, the nationally-rewarded author of The Living Souls and The Evacuator
"The scope is epic – the world of Petrushevskaya has no division between important and secondary events, main characters and the rest; each character is measured in scale of fate, the light from cosmos flowing equally though everyone <…> The new moment in this apotheosis of the “matriparchy” is that the great mother, the main hero in Petrushevskaya’s fiction, includes this time both mothers and grandmothers who save other’s children not only from death but also from the orphan-hood." —colta.ru
"It seems, they (Petrushevskaya's characters) appear strange to us only. Petrushevskaya as the author completely believes in the story that we read as a funny soap-opera-type nonesense. What is more – the author is ready to feel sorry for everyone involved in this roll of human passions. This very inexorable love and tenderness towards her characters has always brought up a suspicion about some author’s secret knowledge." —syg.ma