ELKOST International Literary Agency

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JUST PUBLISHED: Ludmila Ulitskaya's The Big Green Tent in the United States

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TBGTLudmila Ulitskaya's award-winning novel The Big Green Tent released in the United States by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, translated by Polly Gannon.


"Ludmila Ulitskaya's latest novel, The Big Green Tent, is as grand, solid and impressively all-encompassing as the title implies. Yet the fact that it covers the Soviet dissident movement with such force shouldn't be surprising. After all, Ulitskaya has an intimate knowledge of the subject. One of 21st-century Russia's most prominent writers, she was among the dissidents of the Soviet era and she opposes Vladimir Putin now. . . . Uliskaya perfectly captures the joy, misery and danger of dissident life . . . Ulitskaya's readers will find it hard not to imagine themselves in her characters' place, to ponder what choices we'd make in similar situations. 'Conscience militates against survival,' one of the characters remarks. You can't help wondering which you would choose." —Lara Vapnyar, The New York Time Book Review

"The Big Green Tent is like the sharp-tongued gossip that flowed in many a crowded kitchen—enlivened by dangerous undercurrents, and never boring . . . Even as she makes clear which side she's on, Ulitskaya resists reductive ideological thinking, in her fiction as in life. She specializes in swerves of fate, not lockstep plots. Ulitskaya's signature narrative perspective—a self-consciously feminine eye and ear intently at work—takes in matchmaking possibilities, mundane coincidences, and unexpected human chemistry . . . The presiding female sensibility is part of a larger project. Ulitskaya has bemoaned the lack of convincing female characters in Russian literary classics. Even Tolstoy's Natasha Rostova, in her view, is the author's unrealistic fantasy. The same goes for the women who populate contemporary Russian pulp fare, and literary fiction has continued the male-centered tradition. Ulitskaya is perhaps the only serious novelist fighting for balance. She's determined to give the Soviet woman's power of passive resistance the literary attention it deserves . . . You don't have to be a compatriot to admire Ulitskaya's honesty and straight-faced irony, or her uncanny ability to marshal endless digressions and intentional stumbles into a gripping tale. To Russian and foreign readers alike, her novel offers what they may have hoped they didn't need. For the grandchildren of Ulitskaya's generation, the reality of The Big Green Tent is almost as foreign as it will be to an American reader. They grew up with the freedom to travel, study abroad, do business, buy nice things. Yet the experience Ulitskaya evokes is now more relevant to their present and immediate future than they would ever have imagined. Her resurrection of that world couldn't be better timed for an audience far from Moscow, too." - The Atlantic

"With both intimacy and cosmic scope, Russian novelist Ludmila Ulitskaya weaves an engaging tale of a group of cold war-era Soviet friends . . . Ulitskaya's easy-going manner and sense of humor are attractive and it doesn't take long to trust she knows what she's doing . . . For her and her heroes, literature is, if not the purpose of life, then its moralizing center . . . The translation, by Polly Gannon, is light and lively, wonderfully devoid of accent or awkwardnesses." - The Christian Science Monitor

"Ludmila Ulitskaya's latest translated novel, The Big Green Tent, is a compelling testimony to the stifling atmosphere of stagnation-era Russia — and a warning, according to the author, to those Russians who feel nostalgic about the Soviet past . . . Ulitskaya avoids the kind of psychologizing that is a trademark of Russian novel, but she masterfully renders psychology through the language of the body, sensory experience and the shifting voice of the narrator." - The Chicago Tribune

New York magazine featured the novel's opening line in print and online.

Goodreads named THE BIG GREEN TENT one of the best books of the month in a newsletter that went out to 35 million readers.

"Ulitskaya uses all of her characters as specific means to a general end: Exploring the great questions raised by living in an intellectually vibrant but politically repressive society. Is literature 'the only thing that allows us to survive, the only thing that helps us to reconcile ourselves to the time we live in,' as one character claims, or is it merely juvenile escapism? Is it possible to remain loyal to one's friends and art in a state that demands a different kind of loyalty? 'Can treachery be justified by unendurable, boundless love?' These large-scale questions drive the novel." - The Boston Globe

"As the book leaps effortlessly from year to year, character to character, it ingeniously tells the story of a generation that is at the same time in love with and at war with its homeland . . . A delight to read." - The Harvard Crimson

"The huge cast allows Ulitskaya to lead the reader on delightful tours of all those late Soviet phenomena most fetishized in hindsight: samizdat, underground dissidence, and steamy kitchen conversations about jazz, politics, and forbidden literature." - Public Books