ELKOST International Literary Agency

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Raya and Aad, 2008

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Rights sold to: Russia - Partner Verlag (magazine rights), EKSMO

Marina Palei. Choir. EKSMO, 2011Raya and Aad is a sharp, ironical anatomization of social stigmas of modern Western Europe written by a self-assured, progressive and liberated woman. Marina Palei tells us a trivial story of a Russian woman Raya (her name means ‘Heaven’ in Russian) who enters into a marriage of convenience with a Dutchman, Aad (this Dutch name sounds just the same as a Russian word for ‘Hell’). Elegantly playing and juggling with established concepts and clichés, Palei depicts the novel’s protagonists as the ‘typical members of certain social classes’.

Aad is a highbrow European intellectual with two University diplomas, connoisseur of music and literature; Raya is a beautiful and uneducated young Ukrainian woman wanting to get a legal residence in the Netherlands and to succeed there. Their accidental date ends up in a marriage of convenience, which Raya slowly converts from a fictitious one into reality. The author’s attitude towards her protagonists is intentionally ironic and acid-tongued. Palei contrives the most grotesque situations (as, for example, a description of nonexistent International Club of Russian women fishing for rich foreigners to secure own financial well-being) to condemn a rotten morals of modern society, and openly declares her compassion towards a naive victim Aad.

The first part of Palei’s novel culminates with Raya’s early and sudden death. The second part though, containing author’s private letter to Aad, changes all accents and dramatically reverses a perspective. Palei plainly and pitifully exposes Aad’s wretched emotional and spiritual dullness; it becomes apparent that despite all his education and refined taste Aad was unable to recognize Raya’s immense natural abilities, talents, intellect...

At a time hilarious and philosophic, profound and ironic, Marina Palei gives us a fine example of modern nonconformist literature.