One More Year
The first book by Sana Krasikov, One More Year, consists of eight different stories that share something in common. In this sense, they evoke a collection of stories by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev, Zapiski okhotnika (1852; A Sportsman’s Sketches, 1932). The main connecting feature is the fact that the main characters are females. The protagonist of the first story, “Companion,” Ilona Siegal, is followed by leading characters in other stories: Maya (“Maya in Yonkers”), Gulia (“Asal”), Anya (“Better Half”), Sonya (“Debt”), Alina (“The Alternate”), Lera (“The Repatriates”), and Regina (“There Will Be No Fourth Rome”). Most of these women have left their native countrythe Soviet Republic of Georgia, Russia, or Ukraineand often their lovers by immigrating to the United States. In their thoughts, however, they live on two continents, the one they came from and the one they are anxious to adjust to, no matter how difficult. Most of them belong to the middle class.
A former nurse in Tbilisi, Ilona Siegal works in America in a urologist’s office, where she deals with older males, including her seventy-year-old husband Earl. Maya, a former accountant, has been unemployed for three years and now takes care of an elderly woman. Anya is working as a waitress in a diner while attending college. Sonya is helping her husband open a restaurant, where she would cook.
Another similar feature in the stories is conflicts the protagonists endure in adjusting to the new world. Among other things, they seem not to understand the ways of American business. As seen in “Debt,” Sonya and her husband Meho visit her well-off uncle Lev and his wife Dina in New York, talking roundabout until Dina figures out the real reason for their visitobtaining a loan to start a restaurant. When Sonya finally reveals the size of the needed loan, Lev tells her he is not a bank. He rightfully suspects they will never visit them again, let alone repay the loan.
Another common element is the conflict between generations. In “Maya in Yonkers,” perhaps the best story in the collection, Maya, an immigrant from Georgia, brings her son Gogi from Tbilisi for a visit. Much of the story deals with Maya’s attempts to find rapport with her son. She can tolerate the usual commotion, misunderstandings, and hassles with bureaucracy, but it disturbs her peace of mind that Gogi is unsatisfied with things in New York, expressing his displeasure with almost everything his mother suggests. In reality, he resents her leaving him behind in Tbilisi. For example, on a visit to the city, he begs her to buy him an expensive jacket, which she refuses. When his grandmother buys it for him, he returns to Tbilisi happy but still lacking an understanding of his mother, in a typical generational conflict.
By far the greatest problem in the stories is love affairs. Some of the women have left their lovers, even husbands, back in the old country. Not only do the women find it difficult to deal with American counterparts, they have trouble with their immigrant compatriots as well. In “Better Half,” Anya’s marriage to Rayan is filled with love, hate, and constant fighting. Even though Anya is Rayan’s Russian Queen, his Pot of Gold, he treats her with jealous contempt. Anya is trying to stay legally in America on account of her marriage, but their constant fighting is making it more difficult. After he hurt her in a physical attack, she obtained a restraining order against him. He tries to heal the rift, but to no avail. Yet, Anya still feels attracted to...
(The entire section is 1472 words.)