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The Line ()

In the early-1960's, Igor Stravinsky agreed to return to the USSR to perform. The excited populace queued up for over a year for the few tickets that were available. From this historical premise Ms Grushin has fashioned a devastating fictionalized portrait of a state where life is so oppressive and barren that the prospect of any kind of treat makes interminable waiting seem worthwhile.

It will be largely forgotten by now, but Ronald Reagan used to collect and retell the voluminous jokes about queueing that were a staple of Soviet era humor. I was reminded throughout of one he used to relate:
Sergei was walking home from the factory one day and saw a line outside the bakery door, so he joined it. He waited for several hours and just as he got to the door they closed it because they'd run out of loaves.
The next day he saw another line outside the butcher's, so he got on that one. Several hours later, he was sent home again, empty-handed, when they ran out of chops.

The next day he was walking home and saw a door with no one standing outside so he stopped and stood facing it. Several hours later there were hundreds of people lined up behind him, but the door still hadn't opened. Finally someone asked him what they were waiting for.

Oh, nothing, I just wanted to be first in line for once.
The characters in Ms Grushin's novel actually do care deeply about getting tickets to see the artist Selinsky, and she fleshes out their various back stories, but, as with the Gipper, it is really the fact of the scarcity and futility that people face that is the point.


Grade: (B)


See also:

Russian Literature
Olga Grushin Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Olga Grushin
    -AUTHORTREK: Olga Grushin
    -Granta Best of Young American Novelists 2: Olga Grushin
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Dream Life of Sukhanov
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One of The Dream Life of Sukhanov
    -READING GROUP GUIDE: Dream Life of Sukhanov (Penguin Books)
    -ESSAY: Once upon a life: Olga Grushin: In 1989, aged 18, Olga Grushin became the first-ever student from the Soviet Union to take a four-year degree in the US. Here, the novelist recalls the media frenzy that greeted her arrival, her sense of dislocation, and how she learnt the difference between deodorant and yogurt (the hard way) (Olga Grushin, 3/28/10, The Observer)
    -SHORT STORY: The Last Offering (Olga Grushin, The Artful Dodge)
    -ESSAY: Flowers in Moscow: 'Whoever you're looking for, I hope they're safe.' (OLGA GRUSHIN, 4/05/10, Wall Street Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Anna of All the Russias: The Life of Anna Akhmatova,' by Elaine Feinstein (Olga Grushin, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW: <10 Questions with Olga Grushin/a> (Laurie Greer , Politics & Prose)
-PROFILE: Rising star: Olga Grushin, author (The Observer, Sunday 5 March 2006)
    -INTERVIEW: Waiting to be transformed: Hopeful buyers take their places in an endless queue (Interview by Alden Mudge, BookPage)
    -PROFILE: Olga Grushin: Precocious Soviet schoolgirl turns master of the post-communist Russian novel (ALEX RAYNER, bmi Voyager)
    -INTERVIEW: Olga Grushin (Barbara Hoffert, 11/1/2005, Library Journal)
    -PROFILE: Alumna Olga Grushin’s first novel “breathes new life into American literary fiction” (Emory Magazine, Spring 2006)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: The Line (WNYC, April 12, 2010)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Olga Grushin (Eye on Books)
    -PROFILE: McCulture: Americans have developed an admirable fondness for books, food, and music that preprocess other cultures. But for all our enthusiasm, have we lost our taste for the truly foreign? (Aviya Kushner, Winter 2009, Wilson Quarterly)
    -INTERVIEW: From Russia, with love (Eric Forbes, Malaysian Insider)
    -PROFILE: Soviet-born writers in N. America mix drama, satire, personal experience (Maria Danilova, 10/22/08, AP)
    -OBIT: Boris Grushin, 78, Pioneer Soviet Pollster (RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, September 24, 2007, NY Times)
    -ARCHIVES: Olga Grushin (Granta)
-REVIEW: of The Line by Olga Grushin (Elif Bautman, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Kapka Kassabova , The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Richard Eder, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Nora ?FitzGerald, Russia Now)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Amber Pearson, Daily Mail)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Harriet Zaidman, Winnipeg Free Press)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Lesley Chamberlain, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Kate Saunders, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Jessa Crispin, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Nikki Edwards, Book Bag)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Jacob Silverman, Book Forum)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (New York Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Amanda Katz, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Edmund Gordon, Financial Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Concert Ticket (Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Brooke Kenney, Maryland Gazette)
    -REVIEW: of Concert Ticket (Claire Allfree, Metro uk)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Russian Life)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Publishers' Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Garret Kenyon, LitKicks)
    -REVIEW: of The Line (Christian Williams, AV Club)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin (Metacritic)
    -REVIEW: of The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin (Lucy Ellmann, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Jane Stevenson, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (LIESL SCHILLINGER, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Richard Eder, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Michael McGirr, Sydney Morning Herald)
    -REVIEW: of Sukhanov (Regis Behe, Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Lesley Chamberlain, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Helen Dunmore, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (John Spurling, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Ann Limpert, Washingtonian)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Lana Asfour, New Statesman)
    -REVIEW: of Dream Life of Sukhanov (Boris Kachka, New York Magazine)

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