Irkadura by Ksenia Anske
A YA Fiction Novel published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (11/03/14)
You know who you are, Irina Myshko? You’re not a mouse and you’re not an eagle, you’re just a dumb mute dura. You’ve never talked and you never will. (Locations 2920-2921).
Irkadura is not dumb, she just said the wrong word at the wrong time to the wrong woman (Locations 917-918) and at the age of two was scarred into a PTSD like silence. Her silence travels with her, affecting her life and how people view her. Most think of her as crazy, stupid, without opinion or protest, or as an invalid. The government has issued her a certificate of disability, which she uses to get a job at a local theatre. Irina is not just mute, but she refers to people as animals. Her mama is a catfish, the man who raped her is a boar and the boy who she is entranced by is a butterfly. Irina herself is a mouse, a timid creature that is stomped and crushed and bitten.
Russia, Hard Times, Struggle, Teen Issues, Strong Female, Mute, Magical Realism
What is Irina’s reality? She escapes as much as possible from the unbelievable horrors of her life through the animals that she imagines inhabiting her environment. Her reality is so horrible and unreal that the only way she can escape is by doing something drastic, to take her mind away. For this, most think she is stupid or crazy. The big finish at the end will toy with your reality and make you wonder what’s really going on.
Just as Irina is a master of making reality disappear in the vividness of her animal descriptions and actions, Ksenia Anske is adept at her vivid descriptions that make the environment and characters seem real. Anske makes Irina come alive through the telling of this harsh and at times depressing story. Anske has created a world that is brusque and to the point. The world for Irina is dim and dreary and hard to survive in. On top of this compelling narrative is the side story of the political environment where the story takes place that flows in and out of the background, intermingling with and influencing Irina’s story. She may be indifferent to what’s going on, but it does have a significant impact on her story.
Irkadura tells more than the story of Irina or the political upheaval in Russia, but of a world where women don’t get to be independent and free. This fact that most people in my world (the USA) take for granted is a fact that does not even register in Irina’s mind because it is not a possibility for her. She has to rely on the charity of others. She has nothing. She owns nothing. She does not even possess full control of her own body. This is like the worst nightmare for any strong independent woman. Irina never got a chance to be one in the traditional sense, but she has her own fight to win. There is a point where she can take control of a part of her life, but she has to overcome so much to get there. There is an immense struggle in Irina’s life, starting from the time she was two and became mute up until the moment she must decide whether she has a future.
Irina has her own kind of strength. She is stubborn. She runs away. She makes plans for revenge… Her triumph is in speaking the truth (at least writing it). She grows her wings off the truth, because in this sordid world she lives in, that’s all she has.
My only unease in the book is the author’s insistence that Eaglet is male because he conforms to the male stereotypes, but I thought the story could have been just as strong had Eaglet been female because then both the females would be getting their revenge. Still, I didn’t think this detracted from the novel at all, just my personal opinion in finding the book’s only criticism.
This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform November 3rd, 2014 and is available on Ksenia Anske’s Website here.
TLDR Star Rating: 4.75
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