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 orphandom, of sleeping in freight cars and beneath the dining 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 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.
“From heartrending facts Petrushevskaya concocts a humorous and lyrical account of the toughest childhood and youth imaginable. . . . It [belongs] alongside the classic stories of humanity’s beloved plucky child heroes: Edith Piaf, Charlie Chaplin, the Artful Dodger, Gavroche, David Copperfield. . . . The child is irresistible and so is the adult narrator who creates a poignant portrait from the rags and riches of her memory.” —Anna Summers, from the Introduction
From the Trade Paperback edition.