The novel’s four parts take place alternately in California and Moldova, and comprise short chapters whose point of view moves seamlessly between that of the omniscient narrator and that of various characters. Delivered in arresting prose, both realities—late 90s, bohemian/hipster California and postcommunist Moldova—thus come together from opposite points of view.
Above all, this novel is a comedy of manners that depicts the cultural (and personality) clash between Tania and Sammy, Anna (Sammy’s teenage daughter) and Irina, and Bill (Sammy’s neighbor) and Serioja (Tania’s brother). It is also a comedy of errors in the tradition of playful, multiple love triangles. The novel reaches a shocking climax involving a stolen Egon Schiele painting and alluding to the real history of East Mountain Drive, whose bohemian community was destroyed in the 2008 “Tea Fire.”
A literary tour de force and a rollicking satire of both suburban America and urban Eastern Europe,