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The Girl from the Metropol Hotel  By  cover art

The Girl from the Metropol Hotel

By: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Anna Summers - translation, Anna Summers - introduction
Narrated by: Kate Mulgrew
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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

Critic reviews

“Powerful ... Like a stained-glass Chagall window, Petrushevskaya’s Soviet-era memoir creates a larger panorama out of tiny, vivid chapters, shattered fragments of different color and shape.... [It] brings to mind Auden’s famous words about Yeats: ‘Mad Ireland hurt him into poetry.’ This memoir shows us how Soviet life hurt Ludmilla Petrushevskaya into crystalline prose.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“A well-crafted glimpse into the past of one of Russia’s most intriguing writers ... Spare, often darkly humorous ... Many memories have a touch of the magic Petrushevskaya includes in her fiction.... Her perspective ... is decidedly original.” (BookPage)

“A terse, spirited memoir that reads like a picaresque novel . . . Lively, irreverent ... With spunk and defiance, [Petrushevskaya] survived, and transcended, the privations of her youth.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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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