On a sweep of Connecticut bookstores in one day, Vanessa Manko is ending up at Byrd’s Books on Wednesday September 17th at (around) 4:00p.m. to sign books and chat it up! Formerly from Brookfield, we feel Vanessa is “coming home” to Byrd’s Book!
Please join us for this very special event.
About the book:
“Austin Voronkov is many things. He is an engineer, an inventor, an immigrant from Russia to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1913, where he gets a job at a rifle factory. At the house where he rents a room, he falls in love with a woman named Julia, who becomes his wife and the mother to his two children. When Austin is wrongly accused of attending anarchist gatherings his limited grasp of English condemns him to his fate as a deportee; retreating with his family to his home in Russia, they become embroiled in the civil war and must flee once again, to Mexico. While Julia and the children are eventually able to return to the United States, Austin becomes indefinitely stranded in Mexico City because of the black mark on his record. He keeps a daily correspondence with Julia as they each exchange their hopes and fears for the future and as they struggle to remain a family across a distance of two countries. Austin becomes convinced that his engineering designs will be awarded patents, thereby paving the way for the government to approve his return and award his long sought-after American citizenship. At the same time he becomes convinced that an FBI agent working for the House Committee for Un-American Activities is monitoring his every move, with the intent of blocking any possible return to the United States. Austin’s and Julia’s struggles build to crisis and heartrending resolution in this dazzling, sweeping debut. The novel is based in part on Vanessa Manko’s family history and a trove of hidden letters that serve as a kind of inheritance-letters from a grandfather she never knew. Manko uses this history as a jumping-off point for the novel, which deals with themes of exile and invention and explores how loss reshapes and transforms lives. It is a profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home”–
About the author:
Vanessa Manko earned her MFA in creative writing from Hunter College. She has taught writing at NYU and SUNY Purchase. An excerpt of her novel was published in “Granta”‘s winter 2012 issue. Originally from Brookfield, Connecticut, Manko now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Praise for “The Invention of Exile”:
Salman Rushdie, author of “Joseph Anton” and “Midnight’s Children”
“Vanessa Manko’s beautifully written and deeply affecting first novel is the story of a man stranded by history in a strange land, torn away by politics and paranoia from the people he loves, exiled and trapped behind an invisible frontier he dares not cross. Manko ranges expertly between Russia, the USA and Mexico to weave her absorbing tale of emigration, deportation, desperation, paranoia, and finally, improbably, love. The novel reminds one, at times, of Kafka, Ondaatje, and even, in its powerful evocation of marooned isolation, Robinson Crusoe. A brilliant debut.”
Colum McCann, author of “Transatlantic” and “Let the Great World Spin”
“Vanessa Manko is a voice for the years to come. Her first novel, “The Invention of Exile,” is an ambitious tale of a Russian emigre in Mexico City. It is an unflinching portrait of how our lives are structured around the complications of geography, beauty and chance, and, at its core, it is a story about those who live in the double shadows of home and history.”