The San Francisco Chronicle: Review of The Invention of Exile

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By Thomas Chatterton Williams

In this assured debut based on aspects of her grandfather’s life, Vanessa Manko explores the existential bind of statelessness and exile. The narrative opens in 1920 Connecticut — during a period of intense anti-communist fervor — when Austin (né Ustin) Voronkov, a political young Russian emigre engineer, working at the local Remington plant, is among a number of men rounded up by the police, beaten and falsely accused of attending anarchist meetings. His limited command of English prevents him from adequately defending himself, and he is deported to Russia, where his American wife, Julia, the daughter of his landlady, accompanies him.

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