The Book of Anna
The Book of Anna
A Novel
Translated by Samantha Schnee


Saint Petersburg, 1905. Behind the gates of the Karenin Palace, Sergei, son of Anna Karenina, meets Tolstoy in his dreams and finds reminders of his mother everywhere: the vivid portrait that the tsar intends to acquire and the opium-infused manuscripts Anna wrote just before her death, which open a trapdoor to a wild feminist fairy tale. Across the city, Clementine, an anarchist seamstress, and Father Gapon, the charismatic leader of the proletariat, plan protests that embroil the downstairs members of the Karenin household in their plots and tip the country ever closer to revolution. Boullosa tells a polyphonic and subversive tale of the Russian revolution through the lens of Tolstoy's most beloved work.

"The latest novel from one of Mexico's finest experimental writers is a madcap metafictive romp that picks up a few decades after Tolstoy's Anna Karenina leaves off. But it's also an absurdist tour de force account of early revolutionary activity. . . . Reminiscent of Bolaño, Borges, and Pynchon, but Boullosa's utterly original voice is at its best when it's let loose." --Kirkus

"This superb translation from Spanish by Samantha Schnee, founding editor of Words Without Borders, is a book of nimble prose that deftly plays with the boundaries between fiction and history. Drawing together servants, diplomats, anarchists, seamstresses and aristocrats at the eve of the Russian Revolution, Boullosa brings heightened eroticism, feminism, and liberation to Tolstoy's imagined world."-- Lauren LeBlanc, Observer

"[A] slim, playful sequel set in the early twentieth century that is deeply attuned to the concerns of the twenty-first. . . . Part Bluebeard's Castle, part Cinderella, Anna's text has a dreamlike, fairy-tale logic and is fueled by a smoldering eroticism. It reads like a feminist rebuke to her static portrait and to Tolstoy's efforts to 'fix' or correct Anna on the page. . . . The Book of Anna succeeds at defamiliarizing Tolstoy's original, re-envisioning it through an entertaining feminist lens." --Chicago Review of Books

"[O]ffers a new twist to Anna Karenina that centers her children on the eve of the Russian Revolution. . . . Boullosa offers an original perspective on this Russian classic that may light the subversive spark lying dormant within." --Ms. Magazine

"[P]resented in parallel with stories and characters that were not part of Tolstoy's 1878 novel, The Book of Anna is also an imagining of the book that Anna herself was working on. . . . Boullosa tips the notion of fiction on its head. Set on the eve of the Russian Revolution, The Book of Anna is told in a rich, unique style." --Buzzfeed

"[T]hreads characters from Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece into an innovative narrative caper that blends history, fiction, and fairytale. . . . The sheer innovation of Boullosa's multi-layered narrative presents the reader with a nesting doll of fictions and histories--threads that intertwine questions of self-hood, artistic creation, and the many-layered voices of political change. The Book of Anna marks the rare achievement of a writer who balances the weight of Tolstoy's complicated genius with her own interpretation of events, real and fictitious, with unmitigated brio and a touch of mischievous whimsy. It will surely become a modern classic." --Paperback Paris

"[An] experimental and playful novel that at once is a tribute to the book Anna Karenina, and also means to revise the portrayal of its central female character. . . . Boullosa continues to charm--though a shade darker--in a section that is written like a fairytale, ostensibly by Anna herself. It has recognizable aspects of Cinderella, but in the shadow of Tolstoy's book, it reads like a feminist treatise full of metaphors about fate, love, and ownership. . . . An innovative delight." --The Book Slut

"Anna Karenina's children and other fictions of Tolstoy's--who know they aren't exactly human--intertwine with Carmen Boullosa's own fictions, who think they are real, and also with the Russian Revolution. A delightfully original and enjoyable book--Russian literature seen through Latin American eyes, and made into something new." --Salman Rusdie

"What does it mean to say that a fictional character has so infused our collective imagination that she's 'taken on a life of her own'? And what if the very vitality of her fictional portrait is what seems to deny her the possibility of living that life--or telling it as her own story? Carmen Boullosa plants an anarcho-feminist bomb in the afterlife of Tolstoy's novel--and then lovingly collects the scattered pages and bloodied rags that she's let fly, assembling them into a dreamscape where author, character and reader might finally be pressed to recognize one another's autonomous voice, and humanity. Historical and yet uncannily actual, readerly and yet deeply writerly, The Book of Anna is a much-needed reminder of the performative power of fiction in unjust and turbulent times.&rdquo --Barbara Browning

"A beguiling return to the world created by Tolstoy. This beautiful translation takes Anna Karenina's story a step further, showing how a single tragedy ripples across generations." --Elliot Ackerman, author of Waiting for Eden

Title The Book of Anna
Subtitle A Novel
Translated by Samantha Schnee
Publisher Coffee House Press
Title First Published 14 April 2020
Format Paperback
Nb of pages
ISBN-10 1566895774
ISBN-13 9781566895774
Publication Date 14 April 2020
Weight 16 oz.
 


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