Monday, April 26, 2021

"Something Unbelievable"

Maria Kuznetsova was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to the United States as a child. Her first novel, Oksana, Behave!, was published in 2019. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and daughter, where she is an assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University. She is also a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature.

Kuznetsova applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Something Unbelievable, and reported the following:
Page 69 of my novel is narrated by Larissa, an eighty-nine-year-old woman who is telling her granddaughter the story of her family's evacuation from Kiev, Ukraine to the Ural Mountains during World War II. On this page, she is fourteen, and her family and the Orlov family, whom they have travelled with, are finding their new apartment and trying to settle in, even though the accommodations leave something to be desired. Larissa's mom and the men try to be more positive, while Aunt Tamara, the mother in the other family, says she will meet her end there.

This would give readers a pretty good idea of my book - it introduces many of the characters in Larissa's narrative, and sets up the idea that her family is exiled during the war. And even though the reader wouldn't know that her granddaughter Natasha also has her own perspective in contemporary Manhattan, thematically, it also speaks to larger concerns of the book - about how to make yourself feel comfortable in a new and unfamiliar place, and all the different attitudes that one can take when being put in a challenging situation.

In addition to discussing Larissa's wartime struggles, the book follows her granddaughter, an actress trying to reboot her life and career after the birth of her daughter. She's feeling lost and alone, thinking of her dead mother and their inability to reconcile, and hoping to find meaning in hearing her granddaughter's story.
Visit Maria Kuznetsova's website.

Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova.

--Marshal Zeringue