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Publisher's Summary

The prize-winning memoir of one of the world's great writers, about coming of age and finding her voice amid the hardships of Stalinist Russia.

Born across the street from the Kremlin in the opulent Metropol Hotel - the setting of the New York Times best-selling novel A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - Ludmilla Petrushevskaya grew up in a family of Bolshevik intellectuals who were reduced in the wake of the Russian Revolution to waiting in bread lines. In The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, her prizewinning memoir, she recounts her childhood of extreme deprivation - of wandering the streets like a young Edith Piaf, singing for alms, and living by her wits like Oliver Twist, a diminutive figure far removed from the heights she would attain as an internationally celebrated writer. As she unravels the threads of her itinerant upbringing - of feigned orphandom, of sleeping in freight cars and beneath the dining tables of communal apartments, of the fugitive pleasures of scraps of food - we see, in her remarkable lack of self-pity, her feral instinct and the crucible in which her gift for giving voice to a nation of survivors was forged.

"From heartrending facts Petrushevskaya concocts a humorous and lyrical account of the toughest childhood and youth imaginable.... It [belongs] alongside the classic stories of humanity's beloved plucky child heroes: Edith Piaf, Charlie Chaplin, the Artful Dodger, Gavroche, David Copperfield.... The child is irresistible and so is the adult narrator who creates a poignant portrait from the rags and riches of her memory." (Anna Summers, from the introduction)

©2017 Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Featured Article: Essential Russian Authors to Know in Audio


Don’t be daunted by the towering reputations of Russia’s literary giants. Listening is the perfect way to appreciate the masters. Russia is a sprawling country with a rich and complex history, which is reflected in its literature. Whether you’re keen on brushing up on classic Russian literature or you want to find a new author to explore, we’ve rounded up 13 of the best Russian authors, classic and contemporary, whose work you should know.

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Magnificent Memoir Of Chlldhood In Stalin's Russia

What did you love best about The Girl from the Metropol Hotel?

Brilliantly written tale of girlhood as the child from a family executed in Stalin's purges. A brief, gripping antidote to the fables portrayed for decades about "Soviet Socialism."

What other book might you compare The Girl from the Metropol Hotel to and why?

Nothing is very close. Still Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "Infidel" is another gripping woman's memoir of growing up in a physically and politically perilous situation in distant lands. Ali lived in Somalia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands and now the United States.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Growing up as a wild child in Stalin's Soviet Union.

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Fantastic Work - Terrible Reading

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is a celebrated writer, especially among Russian speakers the world over. With this in mind, it is difficult for me to understand why the narrator (Kate Mulgrew) did not do her research and learn to pronounce the Russian names that this work is packed with in the correct way. Hearing her slaughter common names like "Volodya" and "Serezha" over and over again is extremely distracting and has essentially ruined this audiobook for me. Would not recommend.