What if Tolstoy's heroine moves to Manhattan?
What Happened to Anna K.
By Irina Reyn
256 pages. Touchstone.
Born in Moscow, raised in Queens, Anna lives almost entirely adrift in a sea of her own fantasies, which include getting dressed in an Upper West Side walk-in closet, buying furniture at the Art Basel/Miami design show, drinking a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and taking in a Hou Hsiao-hsien film with her mythological husband, who would "make enthusiastic love to her body, would lavish upon it worshipful caresses, kisses of bottomless awe, and then, still red from exertion, from the pleasure he was able to evoke, would look through her as though performing a biopsy on her soul." But more than any of these things, the beguiling protagonist of Irina Reyn's witty and compelling novel, What Happened to Anna K. (Touchstone), wants to be written into immortality as both muse and heroine of a novel that wins a major literary prize, and she has spent most of her young life looking for a thin-faced, book-toting, MFA student who might be moved to take up a pen and write one. Afraid that time is running out, the 37-year-old Anna, still lovely and seductive, reenters the real world just long enough to marry Alex K., a wildly successful businessman who wouldn't know a National Book Award winner if one punched him in the nose. Instantly and deeply dissatisfied with her marriage, Anna sets out to prove her desirability by stealing not one but two suitors from her young and adoring cousin Katia, thereby setting off on a path of destruction that recalls, contemporizes, and illuminates the classic story from which this fearless first novel takes its inspiration and its shape.
From the August 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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