Another post for my Russian audiences. I became acquainted with Natalia Gilyarova's prose through Milky Way, a Russian language speculative fiction publication in Jerusalem.
Neigra depicts an absurd family, estrogen dominated family consisting of two sisters and their great-great-grandmother. Delightfully self-centered and antisocial, the three women defy every stereotype of self-sacrificing Russian womanhood. Their autistic, encapsulated world is disturbed with the arrival of when a freakish creature that looks like a humanoid infant and talks in riddles like the Sphinx from Greek mythology. The novel is set in a parallel universe, an imaginary, surrealistic, other-dimensional Russia.
Natalia Gilyarova is a thoroughly western author, her esoteric tastes having formed under the unmistakable influences of Lewis Carroll and Hans Christian Andersen. Her prose does not overflow with that pompous "soulfulness" and "down-to-earthiness" that seem to be eastern Slavic trademarks. She does not bemoan the proverbial "woman's lot" so frequently mislabeled as "domestic bliss". Some of her passages seem to be written by an extraterrestrial, which is both refreshing and stimulating. Playful absurdities combined with a biting sense of humor will make you feel as you've been tapped by a cat's paw, leaving you with superficial scratches.