At the End of the World, Turn Left, Zhanna Slor (Agora Books 2021)
It’s 2008, and 19-year-old Anna’s parents won’t pay her college tuition if she studies art, the one thing she loves most. She’s been drifting from one class to another, one boyfriend to another, and can’t stand being stuck in Milwaukee. When she receives an online message from a woman in Ukraine claiming to be a long-lost sister, Anna responds despite all the warnings that she’s being scammed. She also meets a handsome ‘train-hopper’ who lures her into his risk-filled life. Anna’s sister Masha, a linguist who has been happily living in Israel, receives a one-way ticket from her father when it becomes apparent that Anna has disappeared without leaving a message. Masha hacks into Anna’s computer and starts following the trail – had she flown to Ukraine? Hopped a train with her blue-haired druggie boyfriend? And why was she wanted for questioning by the police? This is a novel about linguistics, identity, and the meaning of home, especially for the children of immigrants.
Zhanna Slor was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to the Midwest in the early 1990s. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and her master’s degree at DePaul University. She has been published in many literary magazines, including Ninth Letter, Another Chicago Magazine, and Michigan Quarterly Review, as well as contributing to the popular news publication The Forward. Her debut novel, At the End of the World, Turn Left, was called “elegant and authentic” by NPR and named by Booklist as one of the “Top Ten Crime Debuts” of 2021. Her second novel, Breakfall, a mystery/thriller set in Chicago, is due out in Spring 2023. When she’s not writing, Zhanna spends most of her free time chasing her three-year-old daughter or doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.