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Good Citizens Need Not Fear: Stories

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  72 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A brilliant and bitingly funny collection of stories united around a single crumbling apartment building in Ukraine.

"Bright, funny, satirical and relevant. . . . A new talent to watch"--Margaret Atwood
"You've never read anything like them"--Elizabeth McCracken
"Darkly hilarious"--Anthony Doerr
"Bang-on brilliant"--Miriam Toews
"Fearless and thrilling"--Bret Anthony Johnston

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Doubleday Books
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
I had high hopes for Good Citizens Need Not Fear, a series of interconnected stories set in or near an apartment building in Ukraine that appears on no government maps. The possibilities for simultaneous humor and things-to-chew on was enticing. And this was a good book, just not as good a book as I'd hoped.

The individual stories work as stand-alones, but also fit together neatly. The writing style is direct, clear, and at times whimsical. The book makes delightful use of occasional, unusual
Feb 09, 2020 marked it as dnf-arcs  ·  review of another edition
Read the stories in Part One ('Novostroïka', 'Little Rabbit', 'Letter of Apology', 'Bone Music' and 'Miss USSR'). I liked them, but I didn't feel gripped or moved, and ran out of interest in continuing. Crucially, I didn't care for Zaya 'Little Rabbit' and 'Miss USSR', my least favourites, centre on her and a scan of the rest of the stories confirms her character is a strong connecting thread.

Review copy via Edelweiss.
Morgan McComb
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
1933 Ivansk Street doesn't exist--except for the fact that it does, and it houses a cast of characters as diverse as a disgraced poet, a recluse with an illicit record business, a canning employee tasked with making a triangular vegetable, and, at one point, even a mummified saint. Written with a wry, tongue-in-cheek criticism of Soviet government and politics, Reva's collection is both wholly bizarre and devastatingly authentic. Reva's collection of stories begin in isolation with only the ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr-pile
If you have any connection to an ex-Soviet state, these stories will likely bring up memories you've forgotten and/or repressed, (at least they did for me). The characters that inhabit Reva's town of Kirovka are sad, determined, fearful, and delusional. I found something that resonated with me in every part of this book. I'd say the comparisons to both Toews and Marra are true.

"When dredging up the past, the newspapers attempted to divide its players into victims and villains....After three
I liked the idea of this book. A bunch of people living in the same building in the USSR who have overlapping storylines. It started off strong and had a bit of dark humor to it. The other stories all ended flat. I didn't walk away with any real message. I wanted more.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Technically, the apartment block at 1933 Ivansk Street, in Kirovka, Ukraine, does not exist. The building was made of leftover material from its neighbors. It doesnt appear on the official rolls. Consequently, its residents have a hell of a time getting heat, electricity, and other utilities. This lack of documentation also serves as a metaphor for the characters in Maria Rivas brilliant collection of connected stories, Good Citizens Need Not Fear, who tend to fall into the cracks of Soviet and ...more
Anthony Daddeo
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the linked stored of Good Citizens Need Not Fear you'll find a Beach Boys album recorded onto an x-ray of pneumonia infected lungs, a mummified saint on display in a delicatessen case, and a number of other ingeniously crafted artifacts so perfectly strange that it becomes impossible to determine if they are pulled from history or flawlessly delivered absurdities.

These colorful objects stand in sharp contrast to the bleak society they inhabit: a remote city in Ukraine in the years just
Nicole Wheeler
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For fans of the magical realism bordering on horror à la Carmen Maria Machado and the bittersweet absurdism of Etgar Keret and Gary Shteyngart. The stories in this collection are linked, but not in an obnoxious way, and leave you truly wondering where each character ended up.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
via my blog:
'Many people claim that they like certainty, but I do not believe this is true- it is uncertainty that gives freedom of the mind.'

Maria Revas collection of linked stories revolves around a crumbling apartment building on Ivansk Street in Ukraine before and after the fall of the Soviet Union. In the very first story Novostroïka, Daniil has the task of informing the people at the town council hall that the very building he occupies is without heat
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Good Citizens Need Not Fear is an absolutely fantastic collection of short stories set in and around a tenement building in Ukraine shortly before and just after the fall of the USSR. It's at turns heartbreaking and darkly humorous, with a touch of surreal beauty. I love that the characters show up over multiple stories and through different time periods, interconnected, but never quite part of a single narrative. It's also fascinating to see how they grow and change and what they have to do to ...more
Taylor Thomas
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
The statue of Grandfather Lenin, just like the one in Moscow, 900 kilometers away, squinted into the smoggy distance

The opening words of Maria Revas GOOD CITIZENS NEED NOT FEAR immediately signal what its about through the image of a selfsame figure, serving both as a reminder of the perceived identical landscapes across the Soviet years and as a model" citizen in the truest sense of the term. The characters in this novel (despite its pretense as a book of short stories, the intricately
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant book of interlinked short stories, reads like a classic Russian satire. Cant recommend enough! ...more
Alexander Kosoris
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good Citizens Need Not Fear is, succinctly, a collection of connected short stories, but a fuller description is a bit more complicated. Set in a small, late Soviet-era Ukrainian town, the stories build upon the previous ones and often bleed into the stories that follow, creating an ongoing narrative that showcases the lives of a recurring cast as it approaches and survives the fall of the USSR. Centred on 1933 Ivanska building not registered in the record books and, therefore, officially, one ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Thanks to Goodreads, Doubleday Books, and Penguin Random House for a free bound galley in exchange for an honest review.

This slim volume consists of nine interconnected stories centered around a crumbling apartment building in the Ukraine, 1933 Ivansk Street. The building and its residents are omitted from municipal records due to a bureaucratic glitch. Maria Reva's stories are separated into two parts, Before The Fall and After The Fall (of the Soviet Union).

In the book's sharply funny opener,
Derek Allard
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first discovered Maria Reva reading "Unsound" in McSweeney's last year. It was the best story I read last year. When I learned that this short story collection, her first, was coming out I had it special ordered from my local bookstore. I finished reading it this morning and it did not disappoint. This book is nothing short of a triumph of writing. Each story is interconnected and center around a single ten-story apartment complex in Ukraine and the people inside. "Unsound" is here again ...more
Chris Beavers
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Normally I'll just read short stories in between novels as a kind of palate cleanser, and with less attention than I'd normally give to a larger read. I'll read one story here or there until I'm done, with just a brief glimpse of each world before the final sentence rolls.

To call this a short story collection is the book's first trick. The first half of the stories, with diverging plots and characters, gets you comfortable living in a melange of fragmented narratives. It gives you your own empty
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoy connected short stories and this is a good one, not great one. Some stories are better than others with a variety of interesting recurring characters. The most interesting character woven threw these stories was Zaya and for me she was the backbone of the book. Whether it was Little Rabbit where we meet Zaya in the internat as a small child (with the wonderful charts describing where the categorized children sleep) or Miss USSR where Zaya becomes a contestant in a beauty pageant, or ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
In the waning decade of the USSR, a building in a small town in Ukraine is reported to not exist, despite lots of people living there. A young cleft-lipped orphan makes a daring escape. Neighbors spy on neighbors, even as they all try to make their way through the strange bureaucratic nightmare of first the USSR and later the post-collapse period.

I really loved the stories in the first half, particularly "Bone Music" and "Letter of Apology" and the opening story which mines the predictable
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of short stories centered on an apartment building that due to a bureaucratic error has been left off a Ukraine map and therefore does not exist in the eyes of the state. The stories range from the surreal to the heartfelt but all of them show what people do to survive when faced with the indifferent and harsh realities of modern Ukraine. Some stories with have you laughing while others touch the heart and are moving emotionally. Definitely a worthwhile read. This book was ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC, all opinions are my own.

When I first began reading "Good Citizens Need Not Fear" I imagined it might be a darker twist on "Catch-22" style absurdity, not at all what I had been expecting from the description. I too had no need to fear as author Maria Reva built a series of well-interlocked stories that stood sturdier than the apartment block where the majority of the stories took place. At times poignant, at others oddly farcical and sweet, this is for
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it

Very fine set of connected short stories set in Ukraine around the fall of the Soviet Union. Read as an e-galley from NetGalley. It was, at times, darkly humorous and touchingly melancholic. The setting shifts slightly from story to story but always seems to circle back to 1933 Ivansk Street. The building at that address seems to take on a mythic proportion, both because that address does not exist in any public record and also due to the human dramas that play out within its walls. All the
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ng, russia, shortstory, ussr
A fascinating collection of interconnected short stories exploring the Soviet period and its aftermath. It is puzzling in places but the threads finally weave together. It is at times moving and troubling, capturing the frustrating red tape and desperation of the system in which people still made real lives.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC. Opinions are entirely my own.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A terrific set of short stories about characters connected through their place of residence before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this book offers outsiders great details about the absurdities and tragedies of life during this period, sprinkled liberally with sardonic humor in the Russian vein. For readers who have enjoyed writing by the satirical Russian masters and post-USSR fiction and memoir, this will be welcomed.
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a really good set of short stories. I really liked how all the stories weave together and characters pop up in different stories. It definitely kept the stories themselves exciting and fresh.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rebecca Hock
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I won a copy through GoodReads. It is not the type of book that I typically read but I did enjoy it. It was a very easy book to read. I enjoyed the stories and the way some of characters reappeared in different stories. A very enjoyable book.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you want humor, this book has it. If you want tragedy, this book has it. If you want romance, look for another title. Riva weaves an amazing story of everyday life in a building that the government doesnt acknowledge even exists.
Matt Steinberg
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Loved it. Reminded me of Will Eisner's graphic novel "A Contract With God" -- interconnected short stories that mix family drama with magical realism, all set in a single tenement building. Maria's characters come off the page and are people you want to spend time with. Look forward to recommending this to friends.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This collection from Maria Reva features stories that pivot from bitter cynicism to hopeful camaraderie in an instant, with an undertone of uncertainty and dark comedy. Not to be missed
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I have just finished Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva. Though it was well written I found it hard to relate to the ironic humour as it was on a subject with which I was not so familiar. It took me a long time to finish it and I found it to be a very odd story. ...more
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MARIA REVA was born in Ukraine and grew up in Canada. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center at the University of Texas. Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, McSweeney's, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere, and has won a National Magazine Award. She also works as an opera librettist.

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