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The Invention of Exile

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  262 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Through the unforgettable character of Austin Voronkov, Manko explores the little-known period in American history of the Palmer Raids and the far-reaching implications of exile and loss.

Austin Voronkov is many things. He is an engineer, an inventor, an immigrant from Russia to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1913, where he gets a job at a rifle factory. At the house where he
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 14th 2014 by Penguin Press (first published March 7th 2014)
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Rating details
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May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from Penguin Publishers as an early reader review copy. The book was excellent and almost written like poetry or song lyrics, in that both strong emotions and powerful situations were telegraphed through stark, short bursts of text. On the surface, this is a story of a Russian immigrant deported from the U.S. as a result of language barriers and Soviet scares of the 1920s, and the seemingly cruel path his life took as a result of that single act. But that isn't really what h ...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
**3.5 stars**

Vanessa Manko is, indeed, a talented new author. I found myself savoring many passages, even though the frequent sentence-fragment style was at first a bit difficult: “He sips his tequila from the thick, hand-blown shot glass. Its lip of indigo blue is curved, soothing. A spiky astringency. Next, warmth. Voices rise, then soften. He remembers Julia and the children on the day of parting …” (I grew accustomed to this style, eventually, and even realized it created an appropriate deta
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2013
Austin Voronkov is many things. He is an engineer, an inventor, an immigrant from Russia to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1913, where he gets a job at a rifle factory. At the house where he rents a room, he falls in love with a woman named Julia, who becomes his wife and the mother to his three children. When Austin is wrongly accused of attending anarchist gatherings his limited grasp of English condemns him to his fate as a deportee, retreating with his new bride to his home in Russia, where he ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko is a rich novel full of symbolism and meaning that I would recommend for those who enjoy literary fiction without traditional narrative plots. The book is set in the history of US/Russian immigration and deportations of the 1920s-1940s but is ultimately not about narrating the history the events or of the characters lives but more about the internal emotion and mental state caused by unjust and uncontrollable forces of governments, bureaucracy and life.

Rachel Watkins
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Vanessa Manko's first novel is filled with love and loss. Austin is a Russian émigré whose moral compass is set so tight that his fourteen-year exile from his family comes to feel more his fault than that of the U. S. government, though they are truly the reason he is separated from his family for so long. This is a beautifully written book.
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is a strange, delicately written book about potentialities and the consequences of behaving. After being unjustly labeled an anarchist and deported from the United States, engineer Austin Voronkov is isolated in Mexico as he attempts to reunite with his family on the other side of the border. While the border is extremely close (at times mere steps away), Austin is determined to gain entry to the U.S. through the proper official channels, and a quest through paperwork and official governmen ...more
Aug 27, 2014 added it
Austin Voronkov, the protagonist of The Invention of Exile, is a Russian-born man who, in 1920, after seven years of law-abiding life in the United States, is deported back to the Soviet Union under the false accusation of anarchism. In love with Julia, one of his landlady’s daughters, Austin marries her before being deported, and she agrees to come with him.

The Invention of Exile is based on the story of Vanessa Manko’s grandfather, who, like Austin, lived in Mexico for many years without bein
super hot tipped, and seemingly right in line with my particular interests of early 20th cent geopolitics and world movement(s)
this rather dull and lugubrious tale of russian usa immigrant accused of anarchy, goes back to russia, to land plop in middle of the revolution and eventually escapes THAT mess to mexico where his statelessness keeps him in suffering limbo. i mean, what's not to like right?!
but no
Saleh MoonWalker
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction, novel
Onvan : The Invention of Exile - Nevisande : Vanessa Manko - ISBN : 1594205884 - ISBN13 : 9781594205880 - Dar 304 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2014
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I cried a few places. My heart was broken in seeing the struggles of Austin, his wife and his children. I can't imagine being separated from love ones for 14 years. This story is inspired by the author's relatives' story.
Michael Stokes
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 52-books-2018
There aren't enough words to express how long this book will stick with you.
Hanna Rose
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was kind of tedious to read in the beginning but I really loved it. The amount of love in it was absolutely moving.
Amy Yingling
Dec 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014, 3-stars
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from Penguin's First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

Austin Voronkov didn’t start his life as an exile. An engineer, he emigrated from Russia to Connecticut, and fell in love. Before he can get married and start a family, however, the US is seized with a fear of all things Russian, and he is falsely accused of being an anarchist. In the end, he gives in to the demands for answers, accepting a label to make the interrogation stop—and marries and leaves with Julia,
Katie Shahin
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
About the book
"The Invention of Exile: A Novel" tells the story of Austin Voronkov, a Russian inventor and engineer who immigrated to US in 1913 to find his American Dream. He meets his wife Julia, but seven years later, Austin is deported partly as a result of his language limitations to defend himself against accusations of being a threat to the US government. Julia follows him and has to renounce her citizenship. They find themselves in the middle of the civil war in Russia, and their escape
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An Impressive Debut Novel Based on the Author’s Family History

In a literary style that is akin to Michael Ondaatje’s exceptional storytelling and prose, without forsaking her own ample literary talent, Vanessa Manko looks back upon her family history in her memorable fictional recounting of it, “The Invention of Exile”, which is yet another of this year’s notable debut novels. One doesn’t need to pay attention to the lavish praise bestowed upon it already by the likes of Colum McCann and Salman
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
The Invention of Exile begins during the time of the Palmer Raids. (1919-1920) These raids on suspected communists/socialists/anarchists marked the first time in America’s history when thousands were ethnically profiled and arrested without the right of legal counsel or a trial.

Austin, a Russian émigré, has been labeled an anarchist by the American government merely because he is a member of the Union of Russian Workers. Because of his limited English, his “confession” is coerced; he will be dep
Nancy Motto
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I was supposed to receive The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko from Penguin's First to Read but somehow I messed up the download and ended up not being able to read the book either on my computer or my Ipad. If anyone from Penguin reads this review, I do apologize.
I still felt an obligation to read and review the book so I took it out of the library as soon as it was available. This is a debut novel and I am sure, a labor of love, since the story is based on the life of the author's grandfath
Mel Raschke
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Government policies kept a Russian immigrant, Ustin Voronkov, whose name was changed at Ellis Island to Austin, from living with his American wife, Julia. Although he was non-political, having a background in engineering, he had taken a proletarian job at a factory and frequented a Russian-emigree social club. However, when the U.S. government instituted the anticommunist Palmer Raids, Austin erred while being interrogated and confessed to being an anarchist and thus was deported,along with his ...more
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Austin, a Russian engineer, immigrates to Connecticut. By the 1920’s he’s fallen in love with an American, he has dreams and plans for their life together, but everything he hoped for is shattered when the government decides he’s an anarchist and send him back to his homeland, where he isn’t welcome either.

Much of the novel takes place in Mexico with an isolated, deteriorating Austin waiting for the day he’ll reunite with his wife and children in the USA. There’s a lot of waiting in this book. A
Shari Wampler
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014

The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko
291 pages

What’s it about?
This novel follows Austin Voronkov, an immigrant from Russia, from 1913 through 1948. Austin is unfairly exiled during the red scare of the 1920’s. When he is deported back to Russia he brings his American wife with him. We watch as they move back to Russia, on to France and then finally settle in Mexico with three children. They eventually separate in hopes that his wife can work from inside the United States
Mar 07, 2015 rated it liked it
in a hurry to et a book at the library with someone pushing for me to leave, I checked out this book based on the first two sentences on the cover write up. They mentioned that it was about an immigrant from Russia to Bridgeport, CT. I did not read further; I probably should have done so. I know many immigrants from Italy that grew up in Bridgeport so thought it would be interesting to read about a Russian one.

The Connecticut segment included years 1913-1920 in pages 1-38. The remainder of the b
Glencoe Public Library
Austin Voronkov is Russian. He has fled his violent homeland for the safety of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he falls in love with Julia and works as an engineer. Austin stays connected with his homeland by joining Russian social clubs and lecture societies. In 1920 he and others are arrested at a club and deported under the assumption that they are communist sympathizers. Under duress, Austin inadvertently confessed to being anarchist. He and Julia move to Paris, then other parts of Euro ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads Win

This is about a Russian emigrant who moves to United States looking for a better life but things go astray. He is searching for the American dream. He gets a job and finds himself at one point joining a Russian club that was not all that it seems as he stops going to the meetings after a couple visits.

Austin Voronkov meets Julia at the boarding house that he is renting and falls in love with her. They exchange vows but the next day the he is charge by the US government for Anarchist
Oct 16, 2014 rated it liked it
I received an advance reading copy of the book from the publisher.
The book was an easy read, telling the personal narrative of a man without a national identity. Austin is an engineer and inventor who had emigrated from Russia to Connecticut, where he met and married his but he was deported and labelled an anarchist. Their subsequent travels (back to Russia, escaping the uprising and fleeing to Paris, and then relocating to Mexico) highlighted their lack of fixed address and nationality. However
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Written in a flowing present-tense, jumping back and forth through time and even from Austin, the main character, to his two children and back, this story aims to capture a particular mental state, I think. It keeps scratching, scratching at the surface of Austin's thoughts until we begin to understand his madness, a madness brought on by a 14-year separation from his family. It raises the question of whether this kind of madness is necessary, then or now, and how much pain bureaucracy can infli ...more
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it
*I won this book from goodreads' first reads.

I don't really have anything bad to say about this book. The characters were well drawn (although Anarose strikes me as a little pointless), and the writing is really quite beautiful and poetic. Austin's plight is beyond sympathetic, and it sounds more than a little familiar considering the current political climate when it comes to immigration.

That said, I just . . . didn't care. Sure, I wanted Austin to get back to his family, but I wasn't dying to
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads
I won this book as a FirstRead.

Austin Voronkov is a Russian engineer and inventor living in the U.S. in the 1910's. As 1920 approaches, and there are whispers of Russians being rounded up and deported, his wife begs him to stay home, but Austin continues going to his Russian Social Club meetings. On January 2, 1920, he gets picked up in one of the raids, and after days of questioning, is deported as an "Anarchist." His wife, Julia, goes with him to Russia, and they end up exiled from there as we
Felicia (Little Prairie Library)
This book was disappointing. The writing tried to hard to be poetic, but it comes across as scattered. There are so many sentence fragments, to the point of being annoying. The story was repetitive, the dialogue felt strained a lot of the time. I couldn't connect to the characters, and the characters felt disconnected to each other. A couple side characters are introduced and then dropped without any ceremony. One of them might have been a figment of the main character's imagination, but it feel ...more
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Vanessa Manko earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College where she received a Hertog Fellowship. She earned a BA in English Literature from the University of Connecticut and an MA from the New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. In addition to fiction, she writes about dance. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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