After losing her father, her boyfriend, and her baby, Sasha Goldberg decides that getting herself to the United States is the surest path to deliverance. But she finds that life in Phoenix with her Red Lobster-loving fiancé isn't much better than life in Siberia, and so she treks across America on a misadventure-filled search for her long- lost father.
It's refreshing, then, to see something like a new American dream appear in Anya Ulinich's first novel, Petropolis. Here, it's no longer a matter of material success, or even educational opportunities, but about finding a place for one's misfit heart ... Sasha is a lonely, pudgy girl -- an ugly duckling born to a swan of a mother. This near-but-not-quite acquiescence to cliche runs throughout the book but, luckily, Ulinich has a wry sense of the absurd that usually turns the commonplace on its head ... Ulinich has a keen literary sensibility that brings forth the pathos of her heroine's quest without indulging in bathos ... Easy sentimentality is also thankfully avoided ... The absurdity of these preconceptions, and the freedom to escape from them, is what shapes Ulinich's narrative and what forms its great optimism.
Russian-born Anya Ulinich offers a sometimes comic, consistently heartfelt story about a young woman laying the foundation for life in a new land as she takes the first tentative steps toward adulthood ... Like much of Russian literature, Petropolis is stuffed with a cast of colorful characters who swirl around Sasha as she works her way painfully toward both self-knowledge and a better life. This novel, as do most good ones, leaves readers feeling they've accompanied the protagonist on a rewarding journey, while still wondering what lies ahead for her.
Ulinich's debut novel traces Russian-Jewish Sasha Goldberg's screwball coming-of-age and search for her long-ago disappeared father. ... Though Sasha's mental letters home and some timeline hiccups work against the momentum, cultural assimilation humor is the order of the day, and Ulinich provides it by the bucketful.