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An overwhelmed new mom discovers unexpected parallels between life in twenty-first-century America and her grandmother’s account of their family’s escape from the Nazis in this sharp, heartfelt novel.
“A fresh perspective—one that’s both haunting and hilarious—on dual-timeline war stories, a feat that only a writer of Kuznetsova’s caliber could pull off.”—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Larissa is a stubborn, brutally honest woman in her eighties, tired of her home in Kiev, Ukraine—tired of everything really, except for her beloved granddaughter, Natasha. Natasha is tired as well, but that’s because she just had a baby, and she’s struggling to balance her roles as a new mother, a wife, a struggling actress, and a host to her husband’s slacker best friend, Stas, who has been staying with them in their cramped one-bedroom apartment in upper Manhattan.
When Natasha asks Larissa to tell the story of her family’s Soviet wartime escape from the Nazis in Kiev, she reluctantly agrees. Maybe Natasha is just looking for distraction from her own life, but Larissa is desperate to make her happy, even though telling the story makes her heart ache. Larissa recounts the nearly three-year period when she fled with her self-absorbed sister, parents, and grandmother to a factory town in the Ural Mountains where they faced starvation, a cholera outbreak, a tragic suicide, and where she was torn in her affections for two brothers from a wealthy family. But neither Larissa nor Natasha can anticipate how loudly these lessons of the past will echo in their present moments.
Something Unbelievable explores with piercing wit and tender feeling just how much our circumstances shape our lives and what we pass on to the younger generations, willingly or not.
“Kuznetsova follows up her dazzling debut, Oksana, Behave!, with another lively tale of a grandmother and her granddaughter. . . . An introspective look at the stages of life and what means the most at each phase, Kuznetsova's second outing is an emotional powerhouse.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Something Unbelievable is a high-wire feat of imagination and heart, told by two unforgettable women. It deftly chronicles the blurry days of new motherhood, the way our family stories echo across generations, and the messy power of matrilineal bonds with wisdom and tenderness and hard-won humor. I loved it.”—Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
“Something Unbelievable is fresh, funny, and filled with messy family dynamics. What a delightful novel.”—Diksha Basu, author of The Windfall and Destination Wedding
“Something Unbelievable gives you things hilarious, things heartbreaking, things gorgeous and perfect and irresistible on every page. This novel crosses generations, oceans, and empires but never misses a step. It is one more testament to Maria Kuznetsova’s extraordinary talent. You’ll read it hardly believing such a good book could be—yet here it is in your hands! Believe!”—Julia Phillips, author of the National Book Award finalist Disappearing Earth
“Maria Kuznetsova has written a vibrant, beautiful novel that takes us from a wartime village in Ukraine to modern-day New York City, from a stubborn, hilarious old woman to her exhausted, cynical granddaughter. It′s a story told by two very different women, in very different stages and places of life, bound together by their love for each other. It is a funny, deeply moving novel.”—Anton DiSclafani, bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
“A portrait of family love in all its variations . . . compelling.”—Kirkus Reviews
“From the very first page, Kuznetsova had me laughing out loud at eighty-something Larissa’s acerbic, delicious wit, which rendered the retelling of her family’s suffering during World War II even more devastating.”—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Maria Kuznetsova was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to the United States as a child. Her first novel, Oksana, Behave!, was published in 2019. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and daughter, where she is an assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University. She is also a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature.
Anton DiSclafani is the author of two novels, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls and The After Party. Both books were Amazon Best Books of the Month and IndieNext Picks, and have been translated into over a dozen languages. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Guernica, American Short Fiction, Narrative, and the New York Times. She is a professor of English at Auburn University.