• Paperback: 224 pages
• Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (March 29, 2011)
From Valerie Laken, the Pushcart Prize–winning author of Dream House, comes a powerful collection of short stories charting the divisions and collisions between cultures and nations, families and outsiders, and partners and misfits searching for love. Set in Russia and the United States, these are boldly innovative stories—tales of fractured, misplaced characters moving beyond the borders of their isolation and reaching for the connections that will make them whole.
A family, shaken by an industrial accident, is divided, its members isolated in their home and only able to understand one another from their separate rooms. A young gay couple travels to Russia to meet the child they’re desperately trying to adopt, but the experience reveals an emotional divide between the parents-to-be. A recent amputee removes herself from her body to keep her husband at bay. And the idyllic village life of a blind Russian boy is disrupted by an American dentist and the wonders of racy Western magazines. Separate Kingdoms is a rich and satisfying collection that traverses the distances between people and places in each marvelously rendered story.
Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, Valerie Laken has lived and worked in Moscow, Russia; Prague, Czechoslovakia; Krakow, Poland; Madison, Wisconsin; Iowa City, Iowa; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received an MA in Slavic Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.
Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, the Chicago Tribune, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the Antioch Review, and Meridian. Her honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, two Hopwood Awards, and an honorable mention in The Best American Short Stories.
Her first novel, Dream House, was inspired by her own experience buying and remodeling a home in which a murder had occurred.
Laken has taught at the University of Michigan and Carthage College, and is currently an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she teaches creative writing.
Visit Valerie at her website.
Valerie’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, March 29th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, March 30th: Boarding in My Forties
Tuesday, April 5th: A Fanatic’s Book Blog
Tuesday, April 12th: StephTheBookworm
Wednesday, April 13th: Life In Review
Tuesday, April 19th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, April 20th: Rundpinne
Thursday, April 21st: Lit and Life
Friday, April 22nd: Book Reviews by Molly
Tuesday, April 26th: In the Next Room