The Russian Dream Book of Color and Flight

At the center of Flannery O'Conner Award–winning Ochsner's debut novel (after collection People I Wanted to Be) is a decaying five-story building in a Khrushchev-era slum whose residents navigate the absurdities of post-Soviet life by immersing themselves in dreams. There's Olga, a translator and sometimes censor at the Red Star; her idiot son, Yuri, who represses his memories of Chechnya with a perpetually worn Cosmonaut helmet; the bathroom-attendant Azade, who knows the dreams of others by the scent of their leavings; and Tanya, a hat-check girl at the All-Russia All-Cosmopolitan Museum of Art, who records her dreams of clouds and air travel in a notebook. When news arrives that the museum may be eligible for a grant, Tanya and Yuri are charged with forging works of art, like Peter the Great's fetus collection and a saintly halo. Meanwhile, Olga fears her son will be forced to fight again in Chechnya. Though Ochsner struggles in places to expand and sustain the energy of her short stories, the novel benefits from its relative plotlessness by granting a rare glimpse of buoyant inner worlds that flourish through the frost.

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