A queer anthem for doomed youth by the author of Virtuoso and The Natashas.
Two women sit side-by-side on the edge of a bed as night falls. Both emigrated from the Soviet Union as children, the unnamed narrator from Soviet Kharkov, and her girlfriend, Nadezhda, from Soviet Moscow to Berlin.
A thigh shifts, fingers fold in, a shoulder is lowered. It is the longest night of the year.
The silence between them is filled with hidden messages from Russian pop music, the raids of Moscow clubs, and the suicide of their friend Pasha. Decades resurface from the Stalin era and the solace of the Soviet poets of the Silver Age. Their small bedroom houses generations of Soviet diasporas, from the displaced indigenous people of Siberia to the Jewish refugees of the 90s and the queer Ukrainians fleeing war today.
The requiem inside the narrator’s head, her mental fragility and her ill-fated love for Nadezhda expand within the darkness of the room, the night and the era, as she asks the all-important question: what does it mean to have hope?
‘We don’t often see writing like this: genuinely subversive and innovative.’ – The Guardian
‘Brave, original… Moskovich’s prose radiates with heat as she describes the life animating the city from within, a breath that unites us in our humanity, even the most marginalised. She locates that delicate point of equilibrium between aesthetics and outrage.’ – Financial Times
‘Closest in tone and plot to a David Lynch film… confounding and beguiling in equal measure; prose that reads as heady yet ephemeral as smoke.’ – The Independent
‘As mysterious as a David Lynch film… paints a dark, post-modern picture of loss of identity, invisibility and disconnection.’ – The Times Literary Supplement
‘A hallucinatory torrent of imagery and ideas that moves entirely according to its own rules…Moskovich explores the relationship between our identities and our physical selves in an experimental, fragmented narrative, obstinately refusing to reach an orthodox resolution but nevertheless casting a beguiling spell that beckons deeper into its strangeness.’ – Herald Scotland
‘A haunting, unknowable novel and no less beguiling for that.’ – The Telegraph
‘There are echoes of Elena Ferrante: of scrappy comings-of-age, communal living, where courtyards provide a stage all of the own for performance, whispers and shrieks, violence and unexplained disappearances. It is rebellion, ultimately, that drives Moskovich’s characters – whether in love or identity – coupled with the anti-linear style of the story itself. In their refusal to be caged or fixed, the novel also asks us to question those elements that shape and sustain us: do perfect, plastic simulations prevent a necessary, human mess?’ – The Financial Times
‘A sexy fever-dream of a book, so visceral and poetic… Moskovich’s experience writing for the theatre, as well as working in a number of other art forms, culminates in a genre-bending work that isn’t quite like anything I’ve ever read. … Those who enjoy experimental forms, thought-provoking material, and a good thrill will delight in this haunting novel.’ – LA Review of Books
Yelena Moskovich is a Ukrainian-born author of three novels, A Door Behind A Door, Virtuoso (long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize) and The Natashas. She emigrated to the the US with her family as Jewish refugees in 1991, then again on her own to France in 2007. She studied dramatic writing at Emerson College (Boston), physical theatre at Ecole Jacques Lecoq (Paris), and received a Master of Arts, Aesthetics & Philosophy (Performing Arts) from Université Paris 8. She co-founded the theatre company, La Compagnie Pavlov, in Paris in 2009. Her plays and performances have been produced in the US, Canada, France and Sweden. Her writing has appeared in publications including as Vogue, Frieze, The Times Literary Supplement, Paris Review, Apartamento and Fantastic Man. She taught creative writing at the University of Kent’s Paris School of Arts & Culture and, in 2018, she was curator and exhibiting artist for the Los Angeles Queer Biennial.