The prizewinning memoir of one of the world’s great writers, about coming of age and finding her voice amid the hardships of Stalinist Russia
Like a young Edith Piaf, wandering the streets singing for alms, and like Oliver Twist, living by his wits, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up watchful and hungry, a diminutive figure far removed from the heights she would attain as an internationally celebrated writer. In The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, her prizewinning memoir, she recounts her childhood of extreme deprivation, made more acute by the awareness that her family of Bolshevik intellectuals, now reduced to waiting in bread lines, once lived large across the street from the Kremlin in the opulent Metropol Hotel. As she unravels the threads of her itinerant upbringing—of feigned orphanhood, of sleeping in freight cars and beneath the kitchen tables of communal apartments, of the fugitive pleasures of scraps of food—we see, both in her remarkable lack of self-pity and in the more than two dozen photographs throughout the text, her feral instinct and the crucible in which her gift for giving voice to a nation of survivors was forged.
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