One of our recommended books is LITTLE FOXES TOOK UP MATCHES by KATYA KAZBEK

LITTLE FOXES TOOK UP MATCHES


A powerful story of sexual awakening and acceptance voiced by an unforgettable protagonist coming of age in post-Soviet Russia.

When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy,

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A powerful story of sexual awakening and acceptance voiced by an unforgettable protagonist coming of age in post-Soviet Russia.

When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels?

After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong. His experiences are interlaced with a retelling of a foundational Russian fairytale, Koschei the Deathless, offering an element of fantasy to the brutal realities of Mitya’s everyday life.

Told with deep empathy, humor, and a bit of surreality, Little Foxes Took Up Matches is a revelation about the life of one community in a country of turmoil and upheaval, glimpsed through the eyes of a precocious and empathetic child, whose heart and mind understand that there are often more than two choices. An arresting coming of age, an exploration of gender, a modern folktale, a comedy about family―Katya Kazbeck breaks out as a new voice to watch.

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  • Tin House
  • Hardcover
  • April 2022
  • 350 Pages
  • 9781953534026

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$26.95

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About Katya Kazbek

 KATYA KAZBEK is the author of LITTLE FOXES TOOK UP MATCHESKatya Kazbek is a bilingual Russian/English writer, translator and editor based in NYC. Kazbek has worked as a fashion writer, with articles appearing in Russian GQ, Vogue.ru. She co-founded the online magazine Supamodu.com and her writing has appeared in Creative Time Reports and Guernica. A previous graduate of Parsons and Oxford’s writing program, Kazbek received her MFA from Columbia University.

Discussion Questions

1. Little Foxes Took Up Matches opens with an introduction of Koschei the Deathless, and the folktale is woven throughout the novel—what does the fable add to Mitya’s story, both narratively and atmospherically?

2. The needle is a symbol throughout the narrative. What did it symbolize to Mitya? To Mitya’s family? To you?

3. Animals—crows, bees, foxes—also play an important role in the novel. What roles do they play in the story?

4. How does the neighborhood of Arbat, and Moscow as a whole, become an important character in the novel? What parts of the city are revealed to the reader?

5. How are historical events surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union described through Mitya’s youthful perspective?

6. While left alone at home, Mitya decides to “explore the secret lives of his parents and grandmother.” How do personal and family secrets play a role in Mitya’s coming-of-age?

7. How would you characterize Mitya’s friendship with Marina? Who did you confide in most when you were young?

8. In an important moment of introspection, Mitya thinks that “he was the only one who could make everything right if he only believed in himself enough.” Has there been a moment in your life where you were your best advocate?

9. In what ways would this novel be different if it were written in first-person point-of-view?

10. What are your hopes for Mitya after the novel ends?