DePaul Alum Book Review! At the End of the World, Turn Left by Zhanna Slor

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. 

At the End of the World, Turn Left is released on April 20th, and you can preorder & order through Barnes & NobleIndie BoundIndigo, or Amazon.

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: 

Goodreads

Instagram

Twitter

Congratulations to these DePaul Writers!

This year’s Chicago Reader “Best of Polls” is open for voting through Feb. 8 and includes: 

  • Alum Caro Macon Fleischer (BA 2016, MFA 2020) for Best Playwright
  • Kathleen Rooney for Best Novelist
  • Kathleen Rooney’s Poems While You Wait for Best Poetry Organization

Congrats to all!

Be sure to show your support by voting in the poll.

Alum Profile: Dina Rabadi

Underground student contributor Sara Shahein caught up with DePaul Education alum Dina Rabadi and asked her about her experiences at DePaul, life after graduation, and her advice for graduating students. Read the full profile here.

Author Visit: Tim Hillegonds Memoir Reading & Discussion

Join Tim Hillegonds on September 26th as he reads and discusses his new memoir at DePaul. Before the reading, also take advantage of the opportunity to talk with the alum about life after DePaul, publishing your first book, writing tips, and more in the library’s Rosati Room.

The Distance Between chronicles how Hillegonds’s plan to leave his mounting rage and frustration behind with a one-way ticket from Chicago to Colorado goes awry as he jumps headfirst into a turbulent relationship with April, a Denny’s coworker and single parent. More than just a harrowing story of addiction and abuse or a simple mea culpa, The Distance Between is a finely wrought exploration of, and reckoning with, absent fathers, fatherhood, violence, adolescent rage, white male privilege, and Hillegonds’s own toxic masculinity. With nuance and urgency, The Distance Between takes readers through the grit of life on the margins while grappling with the problematic nature of one man’s existence.

Tim Hillegonds is a DePaul MAWP alum and author of the new memoir The Distance Between (Nebraska, 2019). His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, Assay, Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, River Teeth, Baltimore Review, Brevity, Under the Gum Tree, Hippocampus Magazine, The Fourth River, Midway Journal, RHINO, Bluestem Magazine, r.k.v.r.y. quarterly, and others. He was nominated for a 2015 Illinois Arts Council Literary Award. In 2019, Tim was named by the Guild Literary Complex as one of their thirty “Writers to Watch.” He currently serves as a contributing editor for Slag Glass City, a digital journal of the urban essay arts.

Pre-event conversation:
Thursday, September 26, 2019 – 4:30-5:30pm
Richardson Library Room 300

Event date:
Thursday, September 26, 2019 – 6:00-7:00pm
Event address:
McGowan South 104
1110 West Belden Avenue

Open Door Series: Kathleen Rooney, DePaul alum Andrea Rehani

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The Open Door series presents work from Chicago’s new and emerging poets and highlights the area’s outstanding writing programs. Each hour-long event features readings by two Chicagoland writing program instructors and two of their current or recent students. November’s Open Door Reading presents Chicago State University’s Kelly Norman Ellis and her student April Gibson along with DePaul University’s Kathleen Rooney and her student Andrea Rehani.

Tuesday, November 21st at 7:00 PM
The Poetry Foundation
61 W. Superior

Learn more!