Thursday, September 8, 2011

TLC Book Tour Stop and Giveaway: Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov

Title: Ivan and Misha
Author: Michael Alenyikov
Publisher: Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press
Publish Date: October 30, 2010

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like stories about family bonds.
  • You like immigrant stories.
  • You like dreamy, nebulous prose. 
What's The Story?:

From "In lvan and Misha, Michael Alenyikov pottrays the complexities of love, sexuality, and the bonds of family with boldness and lyricsensitivity. As the Soviet Union collapses, two young brothers are whisked away from Kiev by their father to start lite anew in America. The intricarely linked stories in this powerful debut, set in New York City at the turn of the millennium, swirl about the uneasy bond between fraternal twins, Ivan and Misha, devoted brothers who could not be more different: Bipolar Ivan, like their father, is a natural seducer, a gambler who always has a scheme afoot between fares in his cab and stints in Bellevue. Misha struggles to create a sense of family with his quixotic boyfriend. Smith, his wildly unpredictable brother, and their father, Lyov ("Call me Louie!"), marooned in Brighton Beach yet ever the ladies' man. Father and sons are each haunted by the death of Sonya, a wife to Lyov, a mother to his sons. 

An evocative and frank exploration of identity, loss, dislocation, and desire, Ivan and Misha marks the arrival of a uniquely gifted voice in American fiction."

My Two Cents: 

I devoured this book in two sittings. Ivan and Misha at it's core is a few interrelated short stories surrounding two brothers. Their relationship is complicated. Both of them rely heavily on one another, in a way that is almost more than brothers and this makes the other people in the brothers' life almost jealous in a way of their bond. Ivan and Misha are bonded in a way that almost no one else can come before each other, not other family, not lovers.

The stories are not in chronological order, which while a little confusing at first, really doesn't take away from the overall story. The first story takes place when Ivan, Misha and their father are still in the USSR in Kiev and deciding when and how they will go to America to begin their new lives. The rest of the stories take place pre-9/11 when the twins are around 23 years old. The stories have different narrators (the brothers, the father, an ex-boyfriend of Misha and Misha's live-in boyfriend, Smith).

There were a few scenes that were somewhat shocking and may be offensive to some readers, specifically there are sexual scenes that may be slightly disturbing because they had incestuous undertones. I wouldn't have had so much of a problem with that but it came out of nowhere and I didn't see what it added to the overall story. Was it to shock the reader? Was it to make a point of some kind that went over my head? I'm just not sure that it was really necessary.

What kept me reading is Alenyikov's writing. It's lovely and sort of dream like in a way that really makes you like the characters and want to keep reading to figure out what happens to them. It takes a lot to create good writing where you can make a reader really care about the characters.

Bottom line: The writing is the real star in this book.


Thanks to the author and publisher, one lucky reader of A Bookish Affair will win a signed copy of Ivan and Misha. 

- You must be 13 and over
- You must be a US or CA resident
- You must be a follower of A Bookish Affair

Just fill out this really easy form here and you're entered!

Don't forget to follow the rest of the tour:

Tuesday, September 6th:  Take Me Away
Wednesday, September 7th:  Unabridged Chick
Thursday, September 8th:  A Bookish Affair
Monday, September 12th:  Lit Endeavors
Tuesday, September 13th:  Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Wednesday, September 14th:  Literature and a Lens
Thursday, September 15th:  The Reading LIfe
Monday, September 19th:  Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, September 20th:  Regular Rumination
Wednesday, September 21st:  Dolce Bellezza
Thursday, September 22nd:  Bibrary Bookslut
Friday, September 23rd:  Ready When You Are, CB
Monday, September 26th:  Col Reads
Tuesday, September 27th:  Books Are Like Candy Corn
Wednesday, September 28th:  The Book Pirate
Thursday, September 29th:  Stella Matutina


  1. This one sounds very unique - I think I'd like the format the author uses to tell the story.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one, especially the writing. Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. I had the SAME thoughts about the incest... came out of nowhere and didn't seem necessary. But the writing was wonderful! (The author sent an e-mail about the part I had a problem with and I'm looking forward to hearing his thoughts!)

  3. @heathertlc I liked it. The stories flowed well together; it just took a little getting use to.

  4. @Jenny I'd be really interested to see what the author has to say if you wouldn't mind sharing that email!


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