Review: The Gray House by Mirian Petrosyan, translated by Yuri Machkasov


A Note

There is no way I can do justice to a book I am still trying to fully understand! But so many of the people who come here to read Top Ten Tuesday or Top 5 Wednesday posts LOVE this kind of book and may not have heard of it, so I’m posting what I can to get the word out on how amazing it is. My vocabulary for books that blur the lines between “regular” fiction and fantasy is too limited to give you a good idea of all that is superbly packed into this book.


The Story

A school/home for disabled students is a world unto itself with tribes, folk lore, fights, loves and much, much more.

What I Loved

I loved the way this world simply became REAL as I read it. There were all types of “students” in this house–those I could fully relate to, those I could tolerate and those I couldn’t stand. Their struggle to come to grips with, understand and conquer the seen and unseen barriers in their life reminded me of epics in folklore in their determination. The legendary leaders, their raisons d’etra, the motives of their followers all could be used in a political theory course as well as a literature course. I loved that as much as a the vividness of the setting and the masterfulness of the story telling.

Here is one great quote I shared in an earlier post:

They are always hostile, always hungry, always covered in spots from the sweets they consume to cheat hunger. They dye their hair and alter their pants with multicolored patches. Red is hopelessly older. Not in years, but in questions he asks himself. Young Rats are not concerned about tomorrow. Their life begins and ends today. It is today they need that extra piece of toast, it’s today they need that new song, it’s today they need to take the only thing that’s on their mind and scrawl it in huge letters on the bathroom wall. Rats suffer from constipation but they’d still eat anything anytime. And fight over food. And over who sleeps where. And after the fight is over they’d listen to more music and eat again, with even more delight. 

You see? The story is so vivid because both the writing and the translation into English are both “genius.” The wordsmith who translated this into English as deserving of an award as the author. Such marvelous prose! I also loved having my friend Sylvia’s Gray House Book Club posts to help me process all that I read. I am still “digesting” this books weeks later.(Her art choices for the club posts were equally “genius.”)

Finally I loved that the Guardian, once again nailed it, this is so much more than a “Soviet Hogwarts.” Brilliant! You can read their full review here.

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like learning how utterly “out-of-shape” I am for reading big books! The size books I used to devour routinely are now almost beyond me? No! Please No! The 300 page limit of most novels today often seems taxing now after 9 years of commuting with audio books. Time to do my mental Iron Man prep!

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan

Currently $3.99 for Kindle




6 thoughts on “Review: The Gray House by Mirian Petrosyan, translated by Yuri Machkasov

  1. Hmmmm, interesting review. I’m not sure I could get into this one; sounds confusing, although maybe not quite James Joyce-confusing! I enjoyed getting a taste of it through your review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow that book cover really caught my eye. Sounds like a good story too. I know what you mean about longer books and being out of shape to read them. I just read one that was over 400 pages. I guess I should just read and not worry about how long they are. That’s what reading for pleasure is! Nice review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shout out.

    I loved your review, as well as everything that has to do with The House, -meaning the book.

    No, it is not Joyce at.all It grabs you, it has a plot. More than a book it is a universe. It leaves you breathless and at loss for what to read next.

    It’s brilliant. I think it’s here to stay and in time, it will become more popular in the States.

    Liked by 1 person

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