‘There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbour’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales’ is a collection of thrilling and mysterious short stories by Russia’s best-known and most controversial living author, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. Amongst a group of writers whose work was banned from being published until the fall of the Soviet Union, Petrushevskaya uses enthralling tales to bring to life, the collapse of relationships and values in the post-war era of Soviet Russia. With a twist of course.
The book is divided into four parts, as described by the Introduction, they are: “Songs of the Eastern Slavs” –dark, surreal vignettes told in the manner of urban folk tales. “Allegories” – including two apocalyptic stories, some of Petrushevskaya’s best known, about the collapse of the social-political order. “Requiems” – an older and gentler cycle that explores human relationships under duress and after death. And finally, “Fairy Tales” or “real fairy tales”, as Petrushevskaya calls them. The introduction itself is something you should not skip past. Petrushevskaya has faced many obstacles over her career as a writer. An insight into the life of the author, her struggles and her stories (most of her work has never even appeared in English), it prepares and excites you for what you are about to experience, without spoiling the tales themselves.