Russian Winter

Press & Reviews

“A magnificent tale of love, loss, betrayal and redemption. … And while there is fascinating information and insight about ballet, jewels, music, art and politics, the emotional center of the book holds everything together. Toward the end, with many unanswered questions swirling, the author lets the truth ebb and flow until a final riptide of revelations leaves the reader profoundly moved.” —Eugenia Zukerman, Washington Post

“An impressive debut: intelligent, moving, and flitting seamlessly between the artistic salons of Soviet Russia and the Boston of today.” —Laura Barnett, The Guardian (U.K.)

“Kalotay’s novel draws the reader in and maintains its momentum throughout. It is a satisfying mystery with a finely drawn plot. Kalotay is equally effective when dealing in broad brush strokes—life in Soviet Russia—and the minutiae of modern life, such as the party Grigori attends at the home of a pretentious academic couple…. The book benefits greatly from the light, natural way in which Kalotay handles specialist knowledge—of ballet, gemology and academia. She never strikes a false note, and the characters are believable within their own world. The secrets at the heart of the novel are treated as delicately, and guarded as carefully, as the precious stones at the story’s centre, and only revealed at the novel’s satisfying end.” —Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)

“A sweeping transgenerational novel… Kalotay develops a neat narrative of deception and betrayal that takes in great strands of literary and political history. …[A] complex story that, in the end, boils down to the simplest of elements: love, fear, disappointment and loss. An auspicious first novel, elegantly written and without a false note.” —Kirkus, (starred review)

“Each character has a petrified secret. The interlocking plots–the present alternates with Revskaya’s youth–build to harrowing betrayals, showing how Soviet Russia was ‘rearranged to discourage love for anything other than one’s country.” —The New Yorker

“This novel, about an oppressive Soviet Russia, a mysterious amber pendant, and the lives of ballerinas, composers, and poets, is fantastic.” —Lindy Moore, The Rumpus

Russian Winter… is eerily engaging and affecting. It could well be the debut novel of the year.” —Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer

“You will be awake until 4 a.m. reading Daphne Kalotay’s debut novel.… Kalotay unfurls the plot exquisitely, inching together her three main characters, each trapped, as are the insects in Nina’s amber, in their respective stases. It is to Kalotay’s credit that she does not pay mere lip service to Grigori’s grief over his dead wife, to Drew’s failed marriage; she explicates, she details, she keeps the dead and the living on each page. …Kalotay, who previously published Calamity and Other Stories, is a spectacular writer: precise, alert, full of movement and air.” —Nancy Rommelmann, The Oregonian

Russian Winter is much more than mere behind-a-cultural-scene entertainment, well-rendered as that world is; it’s also a window into an older world of poetry, dance, betrayal, true and false love, thwarted ideals and secrets kept tighter than a sealed drum. Kalotay….has brought to life hidden worlds with the verve of an expertly executed tour jeté.” —Sarah Weinman, Maclean’s

“With sure and suspenseful artistry, Daphne Kalotay intersperses the unfortunate and tortuous histories of Nina, Elsin, and their artist friends with new discoveries and disclosures… [that] draw together in a conclusion that is surprising, fitting, and satisfying.” —Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe

“A suspenseful, elegant novel whose grace matches that of the ballerina whose story lies at its heart.” —Lilith

“An exceptional debut… Delving into Nina’s life with the Bolshoi Ballet, her life among the Soviet Union’s artist community and her escape from the Stalinist regime add glamour and historical flavor to this novel of secrets, intrigue and wonderfully described priceless gems.”—Carol Memmott,USA Today

“Stories within stories start to emerge, as if from a nest of stacking dolls…. This highly readable saga by the short story writer, Kalotay, does a convincing job of conjuring up life in Soviet cultural circles just after the war.” —The Independent (U.K.)

“Kalotay juxtaposes the sobering devastation of Russia’s darkest times with the pristine beauty of ballerinas, precious gems and unfaltering love. …Russian Winter is a great read for any fiction lover. Be warned—once started, this book will be highly difficult to put down!” —Emily Beardsley, Baltimore Jewish Times

“Daphne Kalotay writes about her characters—artists struggling to dream and survive within the constraints of the Stalinist regime—with sensitivity, humor, and wisdom. I believed in these characters and cared about their fates…. A captivating and entertaining read.” —Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

“This tale of a Russian ballerina who defected to Boston is a history lesson inside an evocative novel about art and betrayal.” —Ten Titles to Pick Up Now, O Magazine

“Part romance, part mystery, this elegant debut captures the danger–and refuge–of love in Stalin’s era.” —Good Housekeeping

“Readers should set aside time to savor this delightful historical fiction with a twist of contemporary romance.” —The Internet Review of Books

“Kalotay’s narrative moves effortlessly between midtwentieth-century Russia… and contemporary Boston…. Kalotay has created appealing, well-rounded characters in well-researched settings, notably in capturing the fear, deprivation, and rampant suspicion of the Stalin era and its effect on artists. …This is a briskly paced, fresh, and engaging first novel dealing with the pain of loss and the power of love.”—Michele Leber,Booklist

“Kalotay makes a powerful debut…. [An] entrancing story thanks to a skillful depiction of artistic life behind the Iron Curtain and intriguing glimpses into auction house operations.” —Publishers Weekly

“Daphne Kalotay’s magnificent multi-layered debut novel takes us from a smart quarter of one of America’s oldest cities to the claustrophobic artistic community of 1940s Moscow where a careless look, word or gesture could bring terrible retribution. Written with passion, vision and a genuine empathy for the Russian people, Kalotay’s well-paced story interweaves historical intrigue with a modern-day enigma, allowing the past to shine a light on the present. The result is a satisfying and sweeping saga full of all those time-honoured ingredients – love, loss, mystery, tragedy and period detail – that are the hallmarks of a successful historical novel.” —Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post(U.K.)

“An elegant, compelling puzzle of family, memory and solitude that brings to life modern day Boston and postwar Russia through a profound love story. Graceful, moving and unexpected.” —Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club

“Kalotay’s masterful storytelling propels a rich narrative of secrets and betrayals, deceptive memories, profound loss and the transformative power of love. … RUSSIAN WINTER creates a wholly believable world…. The ending is a stunner, and as you armchair travel back to the USSR, you’ll want to enjoy all the revelations along the way” —Kathy Hickman, The Sun Chronicle

Russian Winter is a suspenseful, thoughtful, and engrossing tale of emotionally compelling characters-a remarkable debut by a gifted author.” —Lisa Verge Higgins, New York Journal of Books

“Daphne Kalotay’s characters are fully developed, believable and authentic. Revskaya is particularly credible as an elderly woman steeped in melancholy reliving her younger days. Russian Winter is a saga of love, loss, betrayal, heartbreak and redemption.” —The Charleston Post and Courier

“Kalotay has done her research impeccably well, on Soviet Russia, on what it is really like to be a ballerina, as well as the precarious lives of artists when art must follow party lines. The result of this careful research is that Stalin’s Moscow feels heartbreakingly real to the reader. …Like ballet, Russian Winter is meticulous and precise [and] shows us people and ideas that are powerful and fragile all at once.'” —Norah Vawter, Tottenville Review

Russian Winter is a strong debut novel [that] focuses not so much on major historical events but on the nuances and subtleties of actual groups of people at a time in history. …There is a particular luxuriance and expressiveness in each and every ballet scene and some truly wonderful imagery surrounding the arts. Readers will find many passages that echo their exact feelings as an observer. The writing is also graceful and intuitive… and any reader who enjoys history and has an interest in Russia should find worthwhile things here. —Melanie Smith,

“Tender, passionate, and moving, Daphne Kalotay’s lovely debut novel about ballet, jewels, love and betrayal is also a delicious form of time travel, transporting the reader between the shabby, scary glamour of Iron Curtain Russia and modern-day Boston. I loved being int he intricately connected worlds of Russian Winter, and I was sad to leave them when the book was over. —Jenna Blum, award-winning author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

Russian Winter is a marvel that had me canceling appointments and staying up half the night, as it swept me into a world of intrigue, poetry, and romance. Set against the perfection of ballet, the harships of life in the Soviet Union after World War II, and the anguish of families lost and found, Russian Winter reminds me of why I love to read fiction.” —Lauren Belfer, bestselling author of City of Light and A Fierce Radiance

“A memorable love story cleverly disguised as historical fiction.” —Viv Groskop, Red (U.K.)

“A fabulous read, full of Soviet past and modern-day intrigue.” —Beacon Hill Patch

“A pleasing combination of historical novel and literary mystery.” —Choice magazine (U.K.)

“Well paced, with plot twists that keep the mystery going. However, it’s not a book to be rushed; it’s definitely one to savour and get lost in.” —Lisa Hylton, Peterborough Evening Telegraph