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The Concert Ticket

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  358 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Anna is on her way home from work on a cold winter's day when she sees a crowd queuing at a kiosk. Though a queue is not an unusual sight in a Russian city, this appears different. There's a rumour that famous exiled composer Selinksy is returning to conduct his last symphony for one night only - and this kiosk is selling tickets. The acquisition of tickets to this concert ...more
Paperback, 323 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by Penguin (first published March 25th 2010)
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The best way to describe The Concert Ticket is charming; or even better, enchanting. It is Olga Grushin's second novel, and after reading it I am eager to read her debut and future work.

The Concert Ticket (also published as The Line is set in an unnamed Russian city, some years after an event known simply as The Change. Every ordinary citizen becomes a small cog in a wheel of a machine aimed at creating perfect happiness, order and unity; obvious symbolism is obvious but Grushin does her work ju
I guess like others here, my first thought was not as good as...that's the trouble with creating a perfect work of art, one is haunted by it forever.

May I say this is 'not as good' but still SO, SO very good, that we are talking about giving this nine stars out of five, where we might have given Sukhanov ten.

Maybe the very big difference, the thing that makes one intuitively side with Sukhanov is that this novel has no one great character, rather, a group share centre stage equally. If you ask
There are so many reviews already; suffice to say that this is an enchanting novel of hope and dreams and the discovery by the protagonists of what is really important in their lives. I was captivated by both the story and the beautiful writing.
Mar 25, 2011 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: A Common Reader (Tom)
Shelves: russia
The Concert Ticket, by Olga Grushin, is the most poignant book I’ve read for a long time. This story of loss and desire is set in an unnamed Russian city after what is euphemistically called The Change, when colour and life leached out of the city, and grim repression took its place.

The story begins in Winter, as Anna is making her way home from work. She hears that a queue is forming at one of the city’s kiosks and hastens to join it – in a city of endless shortages, it will be worth queuing fo
Olga Grushin's The Concert Ticket is a beautifully written, almost mystical story that shows how people can find meaning in their lives even in the grimmest of conditions.
As a family waits in a long line in Soviet Russia for concert tickets, they start to become discontented with their lives, and look for answers elsewhere. Gradually, they cannot help discovering secrets about each other that they never knew. Will the line bring them closer together or tear them apart?
I especially liked Grushin'
You cannot think about the bad old days of the U.S.S.R. without thinking of the endless lines for bread, toilet paper and seemingly all of life’s necessities. Apparently lines could form in an instant if a report circulated that an item was about to be scarce. Life taught that no matter what the prize at the end of the line was going to be it was something that you shouldn’t risk not getting when you could. It’s this Soviet experience that is the starting point for the novel The Line by OlgaGrus ...more
Talent, emotion and the pure power of words come together in The Line by Olga Grushin. Due out for release in late March by Penguin Canada, this book is one of those you might not finish all at once but are guaranteed to remember. Here's what Goodreads had to say:

The line: the universal symbol of scarcity and bureaucracy that exists wherever petty officials are let loose to abuse their powers.

The line begins to form on the whispered rumor that a famous exiled composer is returning to Moscow t
Matthew Miller
Olga Grushin is a beautiful writer. I swear sometimes I'm reading poetry as she weaves a dream-like narrative, an enthralling dream-like narrative where the engine of the plot is waiting in line.

That's right, the story revolves around a family and their wait in a line. The story, set in a fictionalized Soviet Union, follows the lives of a family who take turns waiting in line for a ticket to a concert by Igor Selinsky, a famed Russian composer who emigrated to the West instead of composing in t
If you are looking for a fast-paced, read-on-the-treadmill book, this is not the one for you, which is fitting, given the plot. This book spans the time frame of a year during which what seems like an entire city in an unnamed country (obviously USSR)waits in line at a dingy, run-down kiosk for something unnamed and unknown. It is rumored that at some point, tickets will go on sale from this kiosk for the concert of an exiled, famous composer, Igor Fyodorovitch Selinski. If this seems an intenti ...more
A group of people come together before a mysterious kiosk in an unnamed Russian city (Moscow? Leningrad?) as they stand in line for a rumored something--a bond forms between them as they wait. Meanwhile, musicians are being mysteriously assembled. The rumor unfolds, a supremely famous Russian emigre composer may be returning for a single concert (Stravinsky anyone?). A beautifully written novel, each sentence a musical phrase. Engaging, sophisticated, a stirring depiction of ordinary life in the ...more
The Line is a fairly enjoyable read, but that said, what I like most about it is something that is not in the book. The author got the idea from a real event: In 1962, after over 50 years in exile, the Soviet government invited Igor Stravinsky, then 80, to return to the land of his birth for one concert. The line to obtain tickets took shape over one year before the show, with people cooperating to wait in shifts, and ultimately forming a complicated little society over the course of the year. A ...more
Sep 12, 2011 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Annie and other Russophiles
Recommended to Sarah by: Genevieve
It took a few dozen pages before I was totally sold, and then there was this moment, this ohmigod moment, and there was no going back. I'm not the first to say "Oh, so very Chekhovian!" but it's true, and that's a good thing. The frustration, lack of effective communication, the yearning, the hope for absolutely no good reason... it's so, so Russian. So, so good. Oh, and Ms. Grushin is one HELL of a writer.
While a title like "The Line" suggests something straightforward and unangular, this is actually a book about orbits: family members tethered to each other by the merest gravitational pull, bureaucracies and secretive statist governments that disrupt lives like the worst pothole, a composer who may or may not be coming back and who flits in and out of the narrative like the ever-present pigeons. But above all, this is a book about desire - and desire that does not increase linearly but expands a ...more
Loosely based on the real events surrounding Igor Stravinsky's return to Russia to give a series of concerts, "The Line" was a surprising book. The straightforward concept of the human relationships developed and exposed over the course of the year the hopeful concertgoers managed to illustrate a lot of very complex concepts. Through the lens of a handful of imperfect yet ultimately sympathetic characters, the reader learns about the Soviet system for economic planning, enforcement, work and att ...more
I was so, so tempted to give up after 40 pages or so because it made no sense to me. Grushin has a way of blurring the lines between reality and imaginations without the readers knowing it. I wasn't used to that kind of writing so it was really difficult for me to discern them. But I learned to just go with the flow of the writing without thinking too much and surprisingly, it brings out more clarity! I absolutely love Grushin's writing now.

On the story itself, I love the subtly interwoven deta
A spot-on encapsulation of what it feels like to hold out for something for so long that you begin to question whether you're performing a fool's errand or whether you've built up the object of desire within your mind to such an extent as to be impossible to actually achieve; or, conversely, whether the waiting only builds your conviction that you are right and the anticipation only sweetens the ultimate reward. This is a conflict I know all too well. The book isn't perfect, but the story and it ...more
a man. a woman. their son. her mother. they share an apartment together in Lenningrad yet they are strangers to each other and live very lonely isolated lives. slowly and with great care, Grushin draws them out, fills them in, gives them dimension and the reader begins to see the spark of longing inside each of them that they do not share with anyone else. the times and the place were such that it was not safe to share your fears, your desires, your joys, your sorrows. to speak to openly was to ...more
The Concert Ticket was my bookclubs pick for this month. I couldn't remember if I voted for this title but my sent email box told me I did. Why? I really can't remember. Maybe the short description I've been reading on or all the great reviews in several newspapers. However, It's not my kind of book at all. The Concert Ticket reminds me of "Waiting for Godot" but with less humor.

The language is brilliant but nothing happens. Four people in a family, all waiting in line for a kiosk. Not k
Grushin's "The Line" is about love, adolescence, desire, greed, hope, and passion. Inspired by a real life, year long line in Russia, The Line follows a family as they take turns waiting in this line for the opportunity to buy a single ticket to, what they think is, a concert. This story isn't really about the line though. The line is simply used as a vehicle for the many other stories Grushin tells.[return][return]I enjoyed reading this book and I enjoyed the imagery it provided of Russia. At t ...more
After reading Grushin's first novel, THE DREAM LIFE OF SUKHANOV, I was curious to see what of a follow-up effort she'd have. On the whole, it's very good. Its setting is similar, a Soviet city sometime during the middle of the 20th century, and while it expresses some of the same frustrations of unfillment as SUKHANOV, its characters have known none of his success. Their lives, that of a three generational family, a grandmother,two parents, and a teenage son, are unrelentingly bleak.

What gives t
Imagine standing in line for a year. You begin standing in line without even knowing why. Without even knowing what is going to be sold and when it is going to go on sale. What is for sale are tickets to the concert of a lifetime, a long exiled composer is returning to the motherland to conduct a performance of his last and greatest symphony, a symphony that portrays the entire history of humanity. While standing in line you learn things about your neighbors, your family, yourself, and find that ...more
Elizabeth Ducie
Like a composer turning a single tune into a complex orchestral piece, Grushin takes a simple incident and presents it from many different facets. A rumour that an exiled composer will return for a single concert; a kiosk where tickets might be sold; and a line of people waiting, just in case – day after week after month. The story centres on one family: Anna and Sergei plus their son Sasha, who each have their own reason for wanting to buy a ticket. We see their lives, hear their hopes and watc ...more
Page 302:
‘And as the light slowly ripened in the sky, there welled inside him a tightness, a knot, and he thought, here in this city, which he once, not long ago, believed so entirely devoid of surprises, on the city's dim outskirts, where centuries before wolves had roamed through snowed-in villages and where now grim apartment buildings grew along meandering, ill-lit streets, in an apartment in one of these buildings, in the three rooms of the apartment, three people lived alongside him, had l
Mary Lou
An amazingly poetic, close observation of people living restricted, constrained lives. Some of the restriction is imposed by a closed society, one that resembles Russia at various times during the 20th century, a joyless society where fear rules and people must speak and act guardedly or risk being informed on and, at the least, losing their jobs, at worst disappearing into a prison. Some of the restriction is self-imposed, evidenced by people who have lost hope and who wall themselves off from ...more
Sherelyn Ernst
This is well worth reading. Grushin bases her plot premise on an actual event and then creates Russian life and the misery of poverty, oppression, and hopelessness. She does such a good job of evoking that in the first half, I was a bit dismayed but came to really like the book as it progressed. The plot itself, based on a group of Russians waiting in line for a year to buy tickets to a concert that might or might not take place, is novel, to say the least. Nonetheless, by the time she finishes, ...more
This book was hard to get through -- i mean it is about a line after all. That lasts a year. Seriously.

Very literary and there is a lot of frustration when reading about the terrible misunderstandings between characters.

However, though getting through it was a little hard at times, once I finished I realized that it was a really satisfying reading experience. Funny, too, all the people in our group that finished it liked it but those that didn't finish, didn't appreciate it nearly as much.

I ke
The characters (Russian) are all waiting in the same line, supposedly for tickets to a performance by Selinksy. The relationships interweave as the wait progresses through an entire year. Beautifully written. Definitely a commentary on how well we know the people with whom we spend the most time.

p.145: “All I’m saying is, it’s a very efficient way of disposing of people’s time, don’t you see? Thousands of us, some waiting for stockings, others for symphonies….What if all of this is just a means
Lovely writing, beautifully told. But I didn't care about the characters, and I didn't care very much about the line, the waiting for tickets, the motivations. Every emotion, every motivation -- all seemed at a remove. I admire this book, but didn't like it very much. Odd.
Lauren Albert
The line represents hope. The people in this unnamed city live grim lives, constantly afraid, watching people being taken away for almost any reason. Though they don't always know what they are waiting on line for, and even when they do, they are always uncertain whether they will be one of the lucky ones to get it, it gives them hope. A community of sorts develops from the line since they all share the same hopes and fears. The focus of the novel is on one particular family, each member of whic ...more
Mac, my brother who loves everything Russian, suggested this.

Very depressing story based on a real concert. Hundreds of people wait in line at a kiosk for tickets that might or might not be for a concert by a famous musician. I was in Russia in 1991 and experienced the lines that people had to wait in for simple things like lipstick or bread. The author is an excellent writer but sometimes I thought she was too "flowery" and I couldn't quite grasp the image she was projecting. A cast of very sa
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Olga Grushin is the author of The Dream Life of Sukhanov (2006) and The Line (2010), as well as short stories, literary criticism, essays, and other works. She has been awarded the 2007 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and named one of the Best Young American Novelists by Granta magazine; her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Granta, The Wall Street Journ ...more
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“Half asleep, he wondered whether that might not have been his happiest day ever, the last, perfect day swelling with the immensity of his secret intent, secret creation—the day before everything changed—the day before he realized, for the first time, yet with absolute finality, just how small his private immensity really was when measured against that other vast, dark, impersonal immensity, call it God, or history, or simply life.” 3 likes
“As he strode through the deserted city, he thought of the New Years of his childhood, before he was ten, before the Change, when the city had still glowed with the soft, deep enchantment of sugared angels spreading their sparkling wings in bakery windows, and bells whose limpid sounds rose like the sea at a moonlit tide, and glass ornaments turning slowly this way and that on dark tree branches, gathering in their reflections the whole wondrous, promise-filled world.” 0 likes
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