The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight

Gina Ochsner

Published: 1 April 2010
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 384 pages
ISBN: 9781846270093

'Nothing stays dead in Russia ...' A bewitching novel of post-Soviet lives that moves between the magical, the comical and the transcendent to portray a people who rely on dreams to defy the coming of dereliction and decay.


In her very dusty provincial museum of fake exhibits lovingly crafted from cardboard, wire and glue, Tanya dreams of Russian art's long colours and wonders when Yuri will stop fishing long enough to notice how she adores him, while she tries the zero-one-zero diet in order to meet Aeroflot's maximum waist requirements for trainee cabin crew. When her boss at the museum gives her the vast responsibility of cultivating some potential benefactors from America, and persuading them to give their money to the very needy All-Russian All-Cosmopolitan City Museum, Tanya finds herself involuntarily enlisting all her neighbours in the scheme. But their shared hopes of riches and dreams of escape start to rot. And the rounded corpse of Mircha in the courtyard refuses to decompose, as the snow turns it into a hill, and its spirit takes flight around the apartments, dispensing more advice than anyone desires, goading the men, annoying the women, in a block where too many mothers and fathers are missing and too many memories lie stagnant on old battlefields.

About the author

Image of Gina Ochsner

Born in 1970, Gina Ochsner has worked as a dog-walker, a substitute teacher, and in a shop selling cheese and puppets, and now lives in western Oregon with her husband and four children. Her collection of stories People I Wanted to Be was published to wide acclaim in 2005 and The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight was longlisted for the Orange Prize. More about the author


The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight joins a vibrant history of magical realism ... Ochsner is a true artist.’ Megan Walsh



‘For writers of the present moment, Russian and non-Russian, the Yeltsin years have become a cauldron for a wildly imaginative, surreal literature grounded in post-Soviet exigency, a chilly Macondo stretching over 11 time zones. [...] Gina Ochsner, an Oregon native, sticks her ladle into the same overhead pot and, with luminous writing, affection for her characters and, especially, faith in language's humanizing power, manages to find a portion of hopefulness.’ Ken Kalfus

‘From Gogol to Bulgakov, Russian literature has long deployed surrealism as a means of confronting the absurdity of Russia's governments ... Oschner paints a vibrant portrait of a community with featherweight beauty and gentle humour.’ Claire Allfree

‘Gina Ochsner's debut novel proves every bit as magical and engaging as her short-story collection, People I Wanted to Be ... Ochsner balances surreal and real with a light touch ... Ochsner has a talent for striking images, and she's quirkily funny ... plenty of touching moments.’ Marianne Brace

‘Ochsner's first achievement is to make us feel intensely complicit in the tragicomedy of her characters ... Her second feat is the prose, which sparkles with wit and originality at every turn, while the characters' inner worlds glow with humanity ... Ochsner has created a heartbreaking comic masterpiece that already has a place in the literature of protest.’ Kapka Kassabova

‘This is a crazy adventure of the imagination, both hilarious and occasionally puzzling. With it, Ochsner joins a small but inspiring band of US-based (she lives in Oregon) writers exploring the post-Soviet landscape. This book has echoes of Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated, Gary Shteyngart's laugh-out-loud Absurdistan and Olga Grushin's more romantic The Dream Life of Sukhanov.Viv Groskop

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