Shortlisted for Russia's national bestseller prize and translated into twelve languages, Give Me marks the debut of a literary wunderkind, a gifted writer with a fine-tuned ear and unforgettable voice. The stories in Give Me are bracingly authentic and deeply felt -- vibrant snapshots colored by vodka, drugs, and young love that capture life at a certain age in a specific part of the world while reflecting the universal emotions of a generation. Too young to identify with life in the Soviet era, the frank, funny, appealingly tough characters in Give Me are forced to find their identities in the chaotic atmosphere of a country recovering from systemic collapse. They reach out to each other in ways that are sometimes affectionate, sometimes cruel, and always desperate for connection.
A young soldier on leave from the Chechen war laments the meaninglessness of civilian life -- "all that goddamned self-expression" -- while his girlfriend ponders the elegant arch of her best friend's eyebrows; a teacher at a summer camp is appalled, disgusted, and frightened by her out-of-control charges and the retribution she could suffer at the hands of their powerful parents; love and loyalty become entangled as a young woman sleeps with friends of her unattainable object of desire to feel closer to him; a suicidal teenager finds salvation in the unlikely duo of a beefy security guard and his Rottweiler; the object of a university student's crush unknowingly pushes her buttons from afar when he neglects to return her anonymous love notes; and Death visits an Internet chat room after politely accepting the offer of a cup of tea.
Full of electricity, humor, controversy, and above all, humanity, these pitch-perfect stories put to use the possibilities of language and perception to give a glimpse of Russia's youth and their struggle to grow up, find their way, and, ultimately, love.
Irina Denezhkina was born in 1981 and lives in Yekaterinburg, where she studies journalism. Since the publication in 2002 of Give Me (Songs for Lovers), she has become a celebrated literary star in Russia and her book has become an international sensation.