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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

Paperback: 9781646052042

eBook: 9781646052301


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.

Biographical Note

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

"Kidnapped is an inventive novel—a hymn to building a family on one’s own terms, whatever form that family takes." —Yelena Furman, Foreword Reviews 

"...there's plenty of cutting satire of corruption in late-and post-Soviet Russia. This irreverent and absurdist outing will keep readers guessing to the very end." Publisher's Weekly