Nadia’s daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities: as a senior home attendant, she is always in danger of being fired; as a part-time nanny, she is forced to navigate the demands of her spoiled charge and the preschooler’s insecure mother; and as a ethnic Russian, she finds herself feuding with western Ukrainian immigrants who think she is a traitor.
The war back home is always at the forefront of her reality. On television, Vladimir Putin speaks of the “reunification” of Crimea and Russia, the Ukrainian president makes unconvincing promises about a united Ukraine, while American politicians are divided over the fear of immigration. Nadia internalizes notions of “union” all around her, but the one reunion she has been waiting six years for–with her beloved daughter–is being eternally delayed by the Department of Homeland Security. When Nadia finds out that her daughter has lost access to the medicine she needs to survive, she takes matters into her own hands.
Mother Country is Irina Reyn’s most emotionally complex, urgent novel yet. It is a story of mothers and daughters and, above all else, resilience.
In any given family, the relationship between mother and child is complicated and challenging. At any given moment, a sizable percentage of the world’s people are being forced to live through a war they didn’t start and are unlikely to benefit from. Put those two things together, and you have the backdrop for this powerful, painstakingly imagined, timely and timeless novel.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Beautifully written, wise, poignant, tender and filled with humor, Irina Reyn's novel Mother Country about mothers and daughters captured my heart from the very first page. Despite the heartbreaking urgency of this timely story, Mother Country is infused with hope, originality and most of all, love. A gorgeous book.
Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation
Mother Country is a beautifully envisioned, morally urgent novel set at the disputed borderlands of a divided family and country. Irina Reyn is a superb chronicler of America, Ukraine, and all points between, resulting in a book of uncommon power and purpose.
Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno
What does it mean to leave a child to save her? A deep investigation into parenthood, identity, and immigration, Irina Reyn's captivating new novel, Mother Country follows a mother and daughter separated by war and trying to find their way back to each other. Weaving back and forth through time and between two countries, Nadia and Larisska’s feelings of betrayal and longing, attachment and fierce independence mirror the current violent conflict between the Ukraine and Russia. Reyn’s powerful narrative looks at motherhood through a fractured mirror—revealing all the ways we deceive and sacrifice for our children, and all the ways we ache for forgiveness and love.
Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
Mother Country maps the emotional geography that forms between parents and children living in drastically different realities. Shifting between Ukraine and New York, Irina Reyn finds the moments of connection that transcend even the most complex of separations.
Idra Novey, author of Ways of Disappearing
Heartbreaking and hopeful all at once, Irina Reyn’s Mother Country, is a dazzling story of a mother’s promise postponed, but never truly broken.
Lynda Loigman, author of The Two-Family House