While the original Anna Karenina is a doorstop of a novel, a nineteenth century work of literary realism whose power accumulates through dense detail over hundreds of pages, The Book of Anna is a slim, playful sequel set in the early twentieth century that is deeply attuned to the concerns of the twenty-first ... Boullosa takes a playful, postmodern approach to her material ... Sergei and Anya, Tolstoy’s characters, feel somewhat static on the page, while Boullosa’s own creations—particularly the anarchist Clementine and the canny Claudia—feel most alive ... The Book of Anna succeeds at defamiliarizing Tolstoy’s original, re-envisioning it through an entertaining feminist lens. It left me wanting to read more of Boullosa’s work — and hoping that more of it will soon be available to the English-speaking world.
A madcap romp through St. Petersburg jumbles fiction together with history, anarchists with royalists, sense with nonsense ... an absurdist tour de force account of early revolutionary activity ... It seems that Anna Karenina has left behind not one but two manuscripts written in an opium-fueled state. The second of these, a fairy tale about a girl named Anna, drives the latter half of Boullosa’s book. What does this all add up to? Who could say? The czar is taking a bubble bath, but the masses are on the march. All roads seem to point toward revolution ... Reminiscent of Bolaño, Borges, and Pynchon, but Boullosa’s utterly original voice is at its best when it’s let loose.
Boullosa...imagines the legacy of Tolstoy’s character Anna Karenina in revolutionary St. Petersburg in this inspired if slight tale ... In short, pointed chapters, Boullosa draws on St. Petersburg’s revolutionary fervor, making an implicit analogy between historical social movements and Anna’s personal attempt at liberation with a long, revisionist fairy tale purportedly written by Anna before her death. Despite the novel’s undeniable thrills, the characters do not progress beyond their roles as representations. Boullosa’s speculative rumination falls short.