Perfection has a cost…
In a remote Arctic town on the far edge of the Soviet Union in 1973, a young mother who has begun to question the state rhetoric goes to work and never returns. She leaves behind her heartbroken husband, Yuri, and her eight-year-old daughter, Anya. As she longs for her mother’s return, Anya’s world becomes even more isolated when she is tapped by the state to train for the highest honor – representing the Soviet Union as a gymnast in the Olympics. Her only confidant is her neighbor Vera, an older woman who survived ten years in a Gulag camp.
Winterland alternates between the point of view of Anya, as she grows to become a more serious Soviet contender in gymnastics, and Vera, who survived unspeakable horrors in the wild tundra of Norilsk in the 1930’s and who might hold the key to what happened to Anya’s mother.
Reminiscent of Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me and Julia Philips’s Disappearing Earth, Winterland tells the story of an era, shaped by glory and loss and about forging a life when you no longer are what you were and finding light where none exists.
Rae Meadows is the recipient of the 2019 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, the 2018 Hackney Literary Award for the novel, and a finalist for the 2018 Manchester Fiction Prize. She is the author of I Will Send Rain (2016), which was shortlisted for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction and longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Her first novel, Calling Out, received the 2006 Utah Book Award for fiction and was named an Entertainment Weekly Must Read, a Book Sense Notable Novel, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her second novel, No One Tells Everything, was named a Notable Novel by Poets & Writers and was awarded Honorable Mention in the Anne Powers Fiction Prize. Mercy Train (released in hardback as Mothers and Daughters) was chosen as a Target Emerging Authors selection and was published in multiple languages. Meadows received a B.A. in Art History from Stanford University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Utah. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY. A competitive gymnast herself, she grew up admiring the Soviet gymnastics of the 1970’s. In her 40’s, she decided to go back to the thing she loved as a child and now practices regularly at Chelsea Piers, where she can be found doing back hand-springs.
Susannah Meadows is a senior editor in the Opinion section of The New York Times and is the author of The Other Side of Impossible.
PLEASE JOIN US AT RJ JULIA FOR THE RAE MEADOWS EVENT
Can't make it to the event? You can still get a signed copy of Winterland.