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Ivan and Misha: A Novel in Stories

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  60 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews

""Ivan and Misha is the Great American Russian Novel told as Chekhov would tell it, in stories of delicacy, humanity, and insight. From Kiev to Manhattan, Brighton Beach, and Bellevue, Michael Alenyikov lays out a series of compelling arguments for brotherhood between brothers, between lovers, between men from an old country. Alenyikov confronts big subjects---illness and

Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 30th 2010 by Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press (first published October 1st 2010)
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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldSex in the Title by Zack LoveA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithThe Slush Pile Brigade by Samuel Marquis
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Nov 29, 2011 Mel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov is an interrelated set of short stories about two fraternal twins, both gay and their father, Lyov. The first story is set where they were born in Kiev (the largest city in the Ukraine) in Russia. In the brief prologue (set in the 1980s at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union) we learn that the wife of Lyov and mother the boys died before they were six. The father is a doctor. We learn he only received one year of medical training and was sent out int ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Nov 08, 2011 Meg - A Bookish Affair rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
I devoured this book in two sittings. Ivan and Misha at it's core is a few interrelated short stories surrounding two brothers. Their relationship is complicated. Both of them rely heavily on one another, in a way that is almost more than brothers and this makes the other people in the brothers' life almost jealous in a way of their bond. Ivan and Misha are bonded in a way that almost no one else can come before each other, not other family, not lovers.

The stories are not in chronological order
Bending The Bookshelf
Sep 22, 2011 Bending The Bookshelf rated it liked it
Shelves: gay
Ivan and Misha is a novel about the intertwining lives of twin brothers, told as a series of interconnected short stories. Each chapter (or story) is told by a different narrator, sometimes Ivan or Misha themselves, and sometimes friends, family, or lovers. Reading the novel is like interviewing witnesses to the same event – it takes a little work to decipher fact from opinion, and you often have to work backwards to find the overlapping moments of significance, but you ultimately come away with ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Another book I'm struggling to review because I enjoyed it so much (why is it so hard to review something really good?). This subtitle of this book is 'Stories' (as opposed to 'A Novel') but there's more cohesion in this than in some novels I've read. The stories center around fraternal twins Ivan and Misha, Ukrainian immigrants living in New York City, and their small sphere: their father Louie, Misha's boyfriend Smith, Ivan's lovers and confidantes. Each story begins almost in the middle -- it ...more
Margo Perin
Aug 24, 2015 Margo Perin rated it it was amazing
Michael Alenyikov is a terrific writer. As Ivan and MIsha cross the ocean and bridge two worlds, so, too, does the literary style in which their story is written. For anyone looking for an intelligent, beautifully written novel that hails from old Europe and has a modern American sensibility, this is it.
Laurel Deloria
Feb 01, 2016 Laurel Deloria rated it liked it
This collection of short stories revolves around a pair of fraternal twins, Ivan and Misha, brought to America as children, along with their father, Louie. Ivan inherited his father's dark good looks and his mother's bipolar disease . . . Misha has his mother's blond coloring and the burden of responsibility for his brother. Both brothers become involved in gay relationships, which strain their own bonds. Alenyikov's richly detailed yet straightforward prose pulls us into the world the father an ...more
Ryan G
May 13, 2014 Ryan G rated it really liked it
First of all, I love short stories. When they are done right, they are short, brilliantly told glimpses into the character's life as they experience some sort of conflict or decision. When they are done wrong, they can be chaotic in pace and tell a story so full of holes, it seems you are reading a rather large piece of Swiss cheese. Thankfully this collection falls into that first category. It's a fascinating novel told within the bounds of unsequential short stories.

What I loved about his book
Jun 19, 2011 Chris rated it it was ok
The connection you share with another person, however brief or seemingly insignificant, can leave a lasting impression, if not with you then perhaps on those close to you. Michael Alenyikov’s interesting story collection, Ivan and Misha (TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press), centers on twin Russian brothers living in New York City at the beginning of the new millennium, and a supporting cast of characters—each with his or her own story to tell—that has an especially profound effect on the ...more
Jan 22, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Ahhh, what do I say about this... Ivan and Misha in most ways is a gem. It's fantastically written, emotionally provoking. But I almost stopped reading it right into the first story after the prologue. I'm glad I continued, but there were definitely a couple moments that made me uncomfortable.

Ivan and Misha are twin brothers who emigrate from the USSR in the 1980's with their father to New York City. The prologue starts there and then picks back up in their lives in 2000. We read a story from Mi
Oct 05, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
This fascinating story is told in a collection of closely related chapters that also serve as short stories. It tells of twin brothers, immigrants trying to make ends meet in New York City. They struggle with personal problems, family loss, and their various money-making schemes. The intimacy between the brothers, and the gay one's younger boyfriend, offer a serious yet often witty tale of love, loss and loyalty.
May 19, 2013 Sandra rated it really liked it
Alenyikov inhabits his characters fully, and this novel's strength is in its characters along with an ability to bring New York alive through their experiences. Yet, the author, like the twin brothers Ivan and Misha, seems to be as comfortable in Kiev as in New York, and the Old World comes through in their reflections when they are visited by the ghost of a mother with long blond hair, who ostensibly died giving them birth.
It is with great restraint and skill that Alenyikov keeps Papa, Lyov who
Gianna Mosser
Mar 04, 2014 Gianna Mosser rated it it was ok
I really think this book would have worked better as a linear novel rather than the chapter stories. The relationship between the brothers and the father was so dynamic, I was quite disappointed when the later part of the book put more emphasis on Kevin's storyline. There was something striking here, but it wasn't properly teased out.
Genanne Walsh
Mar 17, 2016 Genanne Walsh rated it it was amazing
A lyrical, beautifully written novel by a writer of great sensitivity and intelligence. One of my favorite lines: "the American accent he's picked up like lint on a fine dark coat."
Robert J.
Apr 17, 2013 Robert J. rated it it was amazing
I found Ivan and Misha a challenging read, in a really good way. It makes you think very seriously about what it means to be a human being, and what it means to love other human beings, and what it means when you part ways with another human being, however flawed. I'm not a New Yorker, I'm not gay, and I'm not Russian; you don't need to be any of those things to feel the basic humanity streaming out of this book. I remember my friends who have died of AIDS and what that time was like, and Michae ...more
George Ilsley
May 12, 2016 George Ilsley rated it really liked it
It is unusual to read a collection of linked stories that reads both as short stories, or as episodes from a novel. Because these sections work as short stories, the reader is not left with the feeling that something is missing. Today I find myself thinking, what is a novel, and is this book a novel. I can only suggest that people read this for themselves and let me know.
Jun 20, 2011 Wyatt rated it really liked it
I was completely disturbed by the ending of the first vignette, but Alenyikov's prose is amazing. I couldn't stop thinking about what story he would tell next, and how he would tell it.
Jun 06, 2011 Trent rated it liked it
Interrelated short stories about a pair of Ukrainian-born fraternal twins living in NYC.
Elisa Rolle
Oct 25, 2015 Elisa Rolle rated it it was amazing
2011 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)
Apr 26, 2011 Paige rated it really liked it
Very well written, but took me a long time to get through.
Sep 23, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it
This story has a wonderful musical flow. Some of it has to do with the sing song quality of a Russian speaker's English and a fairy tale quality to the sentiments felt by uniquely Russian souls living in cold American New York. The titular Ivan and Misha, twin brothers one gay one pan sexual, live their young lives in the quintessential New Yorky-ness of the Village scene and the Russian parts of Brooklyn where their elderly father resides. This book is quite disturbing. The mundanity with which ...more
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Michael Alenyikov's short stories have appeared in Canada's Descant, the Georgia Review, New York Stories, and the James White Review, and have been anthologized in Best Gay Stories 2008 and Tartts Four: Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers. His essays have appeared in the Gay & Lesbian Review. He was a MacDowell Fellow in 2004-5, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007. Raised in New ...more
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