A phone call from a bad man from Olga's past brings to life a haunted childhood in an apartment building in the Soviet Union: an unexplained murder in her block, a supernatural stray dog, and the mystery of her beloved brother Moshe, who lost an eye and later vanished.
Reading this sexy fever dream of a book, so visceral and poetic, I was forced to think about how I’ve viewed my own body over the years—what it’s meant for me to inhabit the female form ... the writing here is fresh and vibrant and the story features an unlikely group of impulsive and curious characters ... Tanya seems to be enduring her body as a kind of punishment. Her experience raises the question of what it feels like to lust so much, so uncontainably and uncontrollably, that you hate yourself. Moskovich demonstrates this battle via queer relationships and seemingly unrequited love, providing glimpses of Tanya’s coming of age and discovery of her sexuality. These sorts of explorations of the body are a trademark of Moskovich’s writing: she presents them in a way that is so elegant and engaging that you can’t help but fall in love with the characters and their struggles ... a genre-bending work that isn’t quite like anything I’ve ever read. A Door Behind a Door challenges the most basic desires and beliefs of its readers. Those who enjoy experimental forms, thought-provoking material, and a good thrill will delight in this haunting novel.
A phantasmagoria about immigration, death, and queer desire with a plot that defies easy description ... This is not a novel for those who want clearly defined borders between the real and imaginary. As the reader moves through the book, events become increasingly surreal, and what initially seem like hints about an organized crime underworld might refer to a more literal underworld ... Narrated in brief sections that propel the reader through its pages, the novel is short enough to read in a single sitting but demands multiple readings to piece together its elliptical narrative ... Though Olga’s perspective dominates the first and longest section of the book, in later parts the narrative baton is passed to seemingly peripheral characters, some of whom are alive, while others are not ... What holds this demanding work together is the strength of Moskovich’s barebones prose, which has a simplicity that belies its lyricism ... the most salient feature of her work is its originality ... a perplexing yet powerful work of literature that is likely to haunt the reader long after its last page.
... successful in evoking alienation ... this novel’s primary interest is in language and form. The author has stressed the importance of theatre and novels-in-verse such as Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin to her work, and it is in its performative, dramatic aspect that Olga and Nikolai’s story comes fully to life. The text on the page resembles a play script, and Moskovich’s plastic handling of language forces us to experience the novel’s tension and unease almost as a physical sensation. We don’t often see writing like this: genuinely subversive and innovative, an experiment in form that is actually discomfiting.