SHORTLISTED FOR THE DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE
The stories of Kseniya Melnik’s debut collection are small-town miracles, each a miniature epic.
Their focus is Magadan, a town in the Northern Far East of Russia, and the unvisited lives of its inhabitants and emigrants – schoolchildren, doctors, teachers, mothers, daughters. Some characters span several stories. Some of their stories span decades and continents. The measure of their telling, though, is invariably the measure of everyday existence. Their dramas, too, are made of quotidian stuff, each life with its own sly or suppressed tragedies, and its brief, often unexpected ecstasies.
Kseniya Melnik’s sensibility is sober and humorous; her stories are moving and funny. In their patient, deliberate unfolding – at once surprising and convincing – and in the fitness of their details – vital because they are suggestive – we sense, above all, an assurance that is dazzling.
Reviews of Snow in May
- A New Yorker “Page-Turner” Book to Watch Out For
- An Amazon “Best of the Month” pick for Literature and Fiction
- A New York Public Library Book Notes pick
- ‘She’s inherited her native country’s literary giants’ passion for soul-searching and dramatizing the shared fates that bind people to places.’ Max Liu, Independent
- ‘Ruminative … Lovely … Accomplished … ‘Snow in May’ takes us deep into the complex fabric of Magadan, an isolated fishing and mining town in the northern reaches of Russia that once served as a transit center for prisoners dispatched to Stalin’s labour camps. With this rich setting as backdrop, Melnik’s characters — young and old, male and female — live quiet lives burdened by the constant weight of conflict.’ New York Times Book Review
- ‘Melnik is very talented, and this is an unerringly assured and dextrous first book. It’s a big compliment when I say it merits comparison to Jennifer Egan’s wonderful ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ – the way perspectives prismatically glide from character to character and era to era, showing the simultaneously redemptive and remorseless work of Time in lucid and elaborate cross-section. Needless to say, though each story works on its own, they build beautifully together.The writing itself is achieved, finished, and gleams with unexpected imagery, gorgeous idiomatic reconfigurations of clichés and memorable aphorisms.’ Colin Barrett, author of ‘Young Skins’
- ‘Funny and sad, tender and tough, Melnik’s stories reveal a writer who is wise and insightful beyond her years. Melnik’s grasp of the realities of the twentieth century Russian Far East is startlingly accurate, but these stories are not anthropological studies – the characters transcend the setting, and they will break your heart.’ Anya Ulinich, author of ‘Petropolis’
- ‘The best story collection you’ll read this year.’ Darin Strauss, bestselling author of ‘Chang and Eng’, ‘More Than It Hurts You’ and ‘Half a Life’