“My mama became a catfish when I was two, on the day I stopped talking.”
Meet Irina Myshko, or Irkadura. A considered mute idiot, since the only word that fell out of her mouth “Dura” after which her mothers palm kissed her cheek and simply, out of fear no words ever since pressed through a wall of lips. Her existence is often neglected by her mother since her birth. We discover as her complicated life unfolds, she has been sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriends.
Irina’s observation of the world, Soviet Russia where this narrative is set, around her cruel and brutally honest life revolves around her thoughts, and how she perceives and compares the appearance and nature of a human, by that of an animal. Take for example her mother, the “catfish”, her rapist boyfriend Lyosha Kabansky, the “boar”, which reveals their true nature. She refers to herself as the “mouse”. So when she finds herself a pregnant 16-yr-old teenager, she finds shaking courage one fine morning and escapes from her life of constant suffocation. Penniless and homeless, an outcast, Irkadura encounters many new people, with them follows different adventure(s) or situations. Her strange experiences on the streets eventually leads her to her arrival at The Chamber Theater, where her life changes for the best and worst.
What does the Soviet Russia present itself to Irkadura? A merciless city, horrifying cold. A society where the cruelest are the real beasts. Bloodshed paints the brutality of damaged psyche. The driving force of hypocrisy, misogyny, apathy & discrimination. Irina’s emotionally tormented life is darkly gritty, a labyrinth within which communalism plays a controversial part in her journey of self-discovery, especially the realisation of her trouble existence. Her constant fight against her debilitating numbness generated by her inner demons.
This is the fifth and 1st book I have read this year, written by the Twitter sensation, emerging author of this generation Ksenia Anske. This is Ksenia’s most difficult and darkest narrative she has ever devised, truly because she captures the life of the extremely harsh and terrifying nature of Soviet Russia, which I feel may be approached with controversy. Probably not.
She crafts a gritty world that also includes gay characters, such as Pavlik (the butterfly) & Kostya (the macaw). The first time I’ve read in a fiction the way such characters were portrayed, and I mean, not stereotyped. These are human characters, very much real. Their existence adds so much depth and importance to the narrative. Ksenia’s ability to construct and effectively conceive such challenging issues is highly commendable. She proves that she can handle any form of subject, with daring flair. Including the idea to cast a sexually abused character who doesn’t seem to speak, this in itself is a real challenge to convey Irkadura through thoughts and body language. This is the true trait of a gifted writer. Irkadura keeps the readers hooked throughout.
I leave you to discover the “Eaglet”, the real voice that keeps Irkadura inspired, and constantly questions her to rediscover herself throughout the narrative. This fiction has been excellently edited by the wondrous Colleen M. Albert, who had also edited Ksenia Anske’s very first book, the SIREN SUICIDES series.
Irkadura stays with you the moment you are introduced to her as a child. You are instantly connected to her as she through her self-generated predictions and honest thoughts begins to unfold and understand her new life. You fear for her wellbeing, and struggling circumstances. It’s emotionally powerful, as you find yourself reading to the end, which is both beautiful and tragic. Ksenia leaves the whole journey ambiguous to the readers imagination. This is truly Ksenia’s most challenging piece of fiction to date, one of her most darkest. It’s moving, brilliantly, tragically honest. Deep within the beauty of Irkadura there lies a heart, with a constellation of memorable characters.
5/5 — Profound.
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Who is Ksenia Anske?
Ksenia Anske has been a full-time writer for a few years now. Her very first fiction, Siren Suicides gained her a huge popularity and a surge of fan followers around the globe. A true inspiration for readers and emerging writers. She has offered free digital version of the books, via Kindle, iBooks & many other publishers.
Her works include, the SIREN SUICIDES trilogy, ROSEHEAD, the recently released, IRKADURA, & CORNERS aimed for a 2015 release.
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The cover image has been taken from the following link below. By wonderful and talented artist Ana Luísa Pinto (Luminous Photography). I contacted her via Facebook, and she agreed for me to feature the artcover. Deeply appreciate it. I wish her every success, and follow her intriguing work.