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A breathtaking novel of grief, love, creativity and a young woman’s queer and artistic awakening.

In the days after her mother’s death from breast cancer, Oksana, a young queer poet, decides to return her mother’s ashes to their working-class hometown in Siberia. It is a journey home that will take her through the raw, almost dreamlike emotions of early grief through to an acceptance of the wound that death leaves behind.

As she navigates the rituals of parting, Oksana feels her way through memory and heartache with a wry humour, reflecting on her complex relationship with her mother and on her own experiences of love, loss, sexuality and the search for home.

Powerful, lyrical and precise, this extraordinary debut is a novel which blurs the line between reality and creation. Wound is both an exploration of grief and a journey towards love, happiness and creative fulfilment.

Translated from the Russian by Elina Alter

“This is not just an amazing novel, extremely frank, extremely accurate and extremely addictive, but, perhaps, a book about finding happiness” The Blueprint

“Wound is a poet’s novel . . . a primer on feminist thought for readers with Pushkin in their veins” European Review of Books

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Reviews

Forbes Russia
From very personal experiences, Vasyakina has written a frank text about memory, her own sexuality, the relationship between mother and daughter
European Review of Books
Wound is a poet's novel, structured like "a pebble dropped into water" . . . a primer on feminist thought for readers with Pushkin in their veins
Snob
This book is impossible to swallow or read in one gulp. I, who always read very quickly, only needed twenty pages. Then I had to step back, catch my breath, look at the surrounding objects, return to the familiar world - which, it seemed, would never be the same again. There is such density, concentration of thoughts and feelings in the text, that one wants to live and realize each fragment separately
EUGENE OSTASHEVSKY, author of The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi
It is heartening to see public recognition of Vasyakina, a feminist activist and a lesbian, whose work does not hide but rather publicises her orientation and her politics...Elina Alter does justice to Vasyakina's style, whose clarity and unpretentiousness results in a work of great inner power
Meduza
It is the rare and therefore especially valuable ability to see the forest, while distinguishing individual trees in it, and to generalize without falling into the sin of superficial simplification, which makes Oksana Vasyakina's Wound one of the most important texts published in Russian in 2021
The Blueprint
Wound is a story about how wounds can heal. To do this, they need to grope, understand and speak. This is not just an amazing novel, extremely frank, extremely accurate and extremely addictive, but, perhaps, a book about finding happiness
SOPHIE PINKHAM, author of Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine
In this moving, poetic autobiographical novel, family trauma is inseparable from national history. Returning to Siberia with her mother's ashes, a daughter revisits the primal scenes of four generations. In the process, she invents a new way of existing as a queer woman from the Russian provinces
JESSI JEZEWSKA STEVENS, author of The Exhibition of Persephone Q and The Visitors
Deeply moving, Wound flows from a faith in the emancipatory power of literature that has become all too rare. One of the most refreshing young voices I've encountered in contemporary literature
POLINA BARSKOVA, author of Living Pictures
Acutely necessary. Wound is a bold, human, powerful meditation on how a language of love and death takes shape
ALINA STEFANESCU, author of Dor
In Vasyakina's magnificent Wound, a woman goes on a pilgrimage to bury her mother's ashes in the small Siberian town of her birth, a place where lesbians 'didn't exist.' Urn under arm, the prodigal daughter returns: a queer in Putin's Russia, a poet who first glimpses herself whole-'soft and agape'-in the gaze of her girlfriend. The narration pivots through time in Elina Alter's resonant translation. 'Poetry is my method of forgetting in such a way that what I forget becomes known to others.' I remain awed by the expansive emotional geography of this book, which reads like a novel yet tastes like a poem.
Yelena Moskovich
Oksana Vasyakina's Wound is a rare work of towering honesty and lyricism. Few writers can hold such poise amidst the wilderness of human emotion and render language both brutal and magnanimous
Glamour
Lyrical and profound, this one is a truly special book by one of Russia's boldest voices
New York Times
raw and hypnotic
Declan O'Driscoll, Irish Times
A seriousness of purpose is explored through prose, poetry and an essay on the links between weaving and writing with some comparative thoughts on the difficulties of mother/daughter relationships... Only an author of great skill could hold such disparate material together while also questioning her own method throughout the process. But Vasyakina successfully folds the untidy past into the unsettled present, demonstrating how inseparable they are to the person she is...
Times Literary Supplement
This is a study of grief and an accounting of a coming-to-consciousness as a queer subject in a repressive state. It also left me feeling joyful, grateful, enlightened - and lighter.... [Wound] is a novel to savour and to recommend to queer and straight friends alike, precisely for how it explores the possibilities of discontinuity