A DePaul MAWP alum wrote a book! And it comes out this month! Wow, we are so thrilled to celebrate Zhanna Slor and her debut novel, At the End of the World, Turn Left.
If you missed our alum profile of Zhanna, be sure to check it out here.
After I (hello, English Grad Assistant speaking) sat down over Zoom with Zhanna, she graciously sent me an ARC of her book. DePaul biases aside, I was hooked from the very first scene and its engagingly raw writing. Well, really, I knew I would like it after listening to the book’s playlist (linked on her website). When I sat down to read, and read and read some more, the following chapters affirmed my prediction.
The novel follows Maria (Masha) Pavlova as she returns to Milwaukee at her father’s request when her sister, Anastasia (Anna), goes missing in 2008. The book covers their family’s various experiences as Jewish Russian immigrants coming from 1980s Soviet Ukraine, and when we meet Masha, she’s returning to the U.S. after finding a home in Israel’s Orthodox community in her early twenties. While Masha searches for Anna, now 19 years old, readers see the sisters’ stories unfold in the past and present as they both search for their identities—what does it mean to begin childhood in the USSR and then live in the U.S. as growing adult women? We see their relationship with Riverwest—their adolescent home of vibrant color, grit, and drugs. As both Masha and Anna find themselves away from home, they learn about who they are as immigrants, daughters, Jews, sisters, Americans, Ukrainians, and women. We see them wrestle with a tension of knowing how much their parents had to sacrifice for them, feel the pressure to make it all worth it. While each family member is connected to each other, they each have their own cultural and home experiences, lending itself to gaps of understanding between generations that are explored throughout the novel. We see how each navigates the tension of then and now, of who they are, who they were hoped to be. and their connections to their homelands.
This literary mystery/thriller is captivating from the beginning with an intriguing plot and question over Anna’s disappearance, but I also kept reading for the characters themselves and their relationships with each other, themselves, with leaving, and with all the places of home. I’m truly grateful for the chance to read a story that gives insight into another multifaceted experience of what it means to go missing and come back.
Professor Michele Morano will be joining Zhanna on April 23rd for a virtual conversation. Click here for more information about the event and registration.
Follow her on social media here: