NYT’s Newly Released Books

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By Carmela Ciuraru
By Vanessa Manko
294 pages. Penguin Press. $26.95.
An ambitious engineer and aspiring inventor, Ustin Voronkov, emigrates from Russia in 1913 to Bridgeport, Conn., where he finds work at a rifle factory. Six years later, Austin (as he calls himself) marries an American woman, Julia, but still feels the “outsider’s humility” as he grapples with the nuances of his adopted language: “He seemed to live his days then trying to decipher codes known only to others,” writes Ms. Manko, whose impressive first novel is based on her paternal grandfather’s experience with government bureaucracy and paranoia during the Red Scare of 1919-20. Austin is falsely accused of being an anarchist and deported back to Russia; he later ends up in Mexico, where he will be separated from his wife and children for months that become years. As the isolation takes a toll on his mental health, he struggles to regain his American life at any cost.  Read full article here!