‘I like to imagine that pain spreads like rings in water,’ says Oksana, the narrator of Oksana Vasyakina’s debut novel. Her pain has resulted from the death of her mother. The plot follows Oksana’s nostos, as she brings her mother’s ashes home to Siberia. But interwoven with it are memories of her childhood, reflections on queerness and past and present lovers, and meditations on art, gender and poetry.
The prose is fleshy and intimate. Oksana dips her finger into her mother’s ashes to find out what they taste like and describes a girl’s body as a ‘tender lozenge’. We traverse vast landscapes, including the taiga of Ust-Ilimsk and Lake Baikal, and follow the contours of family