Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer said in "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" that books could have a secret instinct to find the right readers. That idea of a book advancing through destiny to reach us and leaving a mark has always intrigued me. This is the occasion when the title I am writing today was introduced to Alina Bronsky by a friend. Tres Puntos edited this little gem.
"The last love of Baba Dunja" is one of those novels, which goes from less to more and features a character that will become a part of our reading soul. Baba, the Russian name for the grandmother or Baba to children, is the protagonist. She is an elderly woman who lives in a small village in the Chernobyl exclusion area. There she lives with a small number of her neighbors and eats what they all grow.
First, ask yourself why our protagonist chose to return to an inhospitable, dangerous, and isolated location. This may sound apriori to readers who lack common sense. But, nothing could be further from the truth. This is a story about a woman who has given her whole life to her family and to her profession and decided to take control of her own future after the nuclear power plant accident.
Baba, a grandmother and mother, has the option of spending her final years in peace. But she chose freedom. She can choose to remain where she is at home with only the company of friends, neighbors, and the memories of those she loves.
According to the author, she was just a little girl when the Chernobyl disaster occurred and it had a profound impact on her. She didn't have the Chernobyl accident in mind when she wrote the novel. However, it was something she thought of and she chose it as the setting to tell the story about the extraordinary woman who makes her own rules in these circumstances. Although it is a fictional book, there are many other women who have chosen to follow the path of the protagonist.
This is a moving story that reminds us that even after all the destruction, it is possible to live in peace and reminds us that not all miracles happen in idyllic settings. It was a story for adults, original, funny, witty, and a bit dramatic.