"Bang-on brilliant." --Miriam Toews
"Luminous" --Yann Martel
"Outstanding." --Anthony Doerr
"Bright, funny, satirical and relevant. . . . A new talent to watch!" --Margaret Atwood (via Twitter)
This brilliant and bitingly funny novel-in-stories, set in and around a single crumbling apartment building in Soviet-era Ukraine, heralds the arrival of a major new talent.
A cast of unforgettable characters--citizens of the small industrial town of Kirovka--populate Maria Reva's ingeniously entwined tales that span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. Weaving the strands of the narrative together is an unforgettable, chameleon-like young woman named Zaya: an orphan turned beauty-pageant crasher who survives the extraordinary circumstances of her childhood through a compelling combination of ferocity, intelligence, stubbornness and wit.
Good Citizens Need Not Fear takes us from paranoia to tenderness and back again, exploring what it is to be an individual amid the roiling forces of history. Inspired by her family's own experiences in Ukraine, Reva brings the dark absurdity of early Gary Shteyngart, the empathy of Miriam Toews, and the sly interconnectedness of Anthony Marra's The Tsar of Love and Techno to a sparkling work of fiction that is as clever as it is heartfelt.
MARIA REVA was born in Ukraine and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has an MFA in fiction from the Michener Center at the University of Texas. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories (2017 and 2019), McSweeny's and Granta. She currently lives in Austin, Texas, and also works as an opera librettist.
“Bright, funny, satirical and relevant. . . . A new talent to watch!” —Margaret Atwood (via Twitter)
“Good Citizens Need Not Fear is the funniest, most politically astute book I've read in years. Reva's pitch perfect tone—especially at that comic junction where the absurdity of a system rigged to control human beings collides with actual humans—is bang-on brilliant.” —Miriam Toews, author of Women Talking
“Creative, poignant, and darkly hilarious, Good Citizens Need Not Fear is full of relevant questions about resistance, corruption, and maintaining dignity against the dehumanizing power of the State. This is an outstanding first book.” —Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
"Luminous. These stories speak with humour yet real emotion of the heaviness of totalitarian systems and show how . . . the light of our humanity still shines through. Terrific stuff." --Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi
“Maria Reva is a miracle writer: how else to explain how dark and suffused with light these stories are, how genuinely hilarious and very serious, how entertaining and thought provoking? You’ve never read anything like them, and together they make an incredible, strange, and deeply exciting book.” —Elizabeth McCracken, author of Bowlaway
“I have never read anything like these radiant stories. They are true originals—funny, devastating, and containing a weird, wild energy. These citizens, living in the literally collapsing buildings of Ukraine, will not be crushed or silenced. They have something urgent to say about where we are today.” —Deb Olin Unferth, author of Wait Till You See Me Dance
“Reading this dazzling story collection, I discovered it’s possible to have your heart broken while laughing loud enough to wake the baby two doors down the hall. With their big, delightful dollops of surrealism and absurdity, these stories conjure up from the old Soviet-era Ukraine a world that feels, with its hall-of-mirrors twists and torques, uncannily—alarmingly!—on point and up-to-date. Good Citizens Need Not Fear marks the beginning of what is sure to be a long, strong career for the brilliant Maria Reva.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“Everything about this book is astonishing—its breadth and depth, its wit and originality, its inventiveness and intelligence and, maybe most surprising of all, its great big heart. We’ve been waiting for a writer as fearless and thrilling as Maria Reva, and Good Citizens Need Not Fear confirms that she’s arriving exactly when we need her most.” —Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This