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The first young adult novel translated from Russian, a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story.
In June 2013, the Russian government passed laws prohibiting "gay propaganda," threatening jail time and fines to offenders. That same month, in spite of these harsh laws, a Russian publisher released PLAYING A PART, a young adult novel with openly gay characters. It was a brave, bold act, and now this groundbreaking story has been translated for American readers.
In PLAYING A PART, Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, and spends as much time there as he can. But life outside the theater is not so wonderful. The boys in Grisha's class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he's not "masculine" enough. Life goes from bad to worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favorite actor and mentor, is moving: He's leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia.
How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.
Daria Wilke was born in Moscow in 1976, and drew on her childhood while writing this novel, as she grew up in a family of puppeteers. She now works at the University of Vienna in Austria.
Marian Schwartz is an award-winning translator of classic and contemporary Russian literature. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships and is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association. She studied Russian at Harvard University, Middlebury Russian School, and Leningrad State University, and received a master's from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Austin, Texas.