American Ending is narrated by Yelena, the first American born to her Old Believer Russian Orthodox parents, who are building a life in a Pennsylvania Appalachian town in the first decades of the twentieth century. Here, boys quit school for the coal mines, and girls are married off at fourteen, only to give birth to more babies than they can feed. Yelena craves a different path. Will she find the American Ending she imagines, or will a dreaded Russian ending be her fate? Pre-order American Ending right here!
Available in bookstores in June 2023.
"The old and forever new story of immigration. Did Mary Kay Zuravleff time travel to write this book? It's as if she truly lived in the past to bring us a novel of the moment."
—Jane Hamilton, author of The Excellent Lombards
"Gorgeous. In Yelena's clear-eyed telling, in her honesty and love, every painful obstacle to attaining that intractable American promise of a better life is made unique—wholly fresh and achingly believable. Oh, and the food!"
—Alice McDermott, author of The Ninth Hour and the upcoming Absolution
"A deeply felt, humane, and timeless treatment of a timeless story. Mary Kay Zuravleff has created an unforgettable heroine, one with the courage to write her own story and the creativity and heart to not just pull herself out of her circumstances, but to bring others with her."
—Ana Menéndez, author of The Apartment
Listen to a 15-minute interview on Prose from the Underground, where MKZ talks about American Ending and her third novel, Man Alive!, with writing dynamo John Mauk on his new series.
The excerpt, "Russian Ending or American Ending?" from Melissa Scholes Young's Grace and Gravity series, includes an interview with Max Wheeler, who was inspired to start writing about his family's struggles in America.
Man Alive! All it takes is a quarter to change pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Owen Lerner's life. When the coin he's feeding into a parking meter is struck by lightning, Lerner survives, except that now all he wants to do is barbecue. That bolt of lightning that lifts Lerner into the air sends the entire Lerner clan into free fall in this book, which depicts family-on-family pain with generosity and devastating humor, exploring how much we are each allowed to change within a family―and without.
"This is a family novel for smart people." Washington Post, Notable Book
"Impressive intelligence and sly humor." People
"Dissects family life with great heart and rapier wit." Parade
"Electric. Open its pages or plug in your Kindle." Huffington Post
"Brilliantly bizarre." Bustle
Listen to NPR interview or WritersCast podcast.
Get Reading Guide for Man Alive!
The Bowl Is Already Broken is a calamitous, generous novel set in a Smithsonian-ish museum in Washington, DC. Promise Whittaker, the acting director of the National Museum of Asian Art, is pregnant again, and that's just the start of her troubles. The previous director resigned suddenly and headed out to the Taklamakan Desert. Her favorite curator has dropped a Chinese porcelain down the museum's marble stairs. Another colleague, desperate for a son, has embezzled museum funds to pay for fertility treatments. And her handsome, elusive ancillary director is clearly up to no good. What could she save if she tried—and how hard should she try?
"A winsome novel with a serious message—if loss is embedded in our everyday realities, then we must live as though the bowl is already broken." San Francisco Chronicle
"A tart, affectionate satire of the museum world's bickering and scheming." New York Times
"Wonderful stuff, these miniature visions in watercolor, ink and gold. Too bad their days—at least in Zuravleff's fictional museum complex—are numbered." Washington Post
The Frequency of Souls is a novel of love, electricity, and life after death. Starring George Mahoney, a refrigerator designer gone stale, and the unforgettable Niagara Spense, who sees electricity as a mysterious animating force.
"Zuravleff's insightful yet gentle rendering of the absurd allows readers to connect fully with her quirky and endearing characters." New York Times
"A beguiling and wildly inventive first novel. . . . A funny and wholly original love story that weds the everyday to the supernatural and the mystical to the mundane." Chicago Tribune
In Praise of Book Groups
I meet the most passionate readers—and I end up at many of their book groups. Feel free to contact me about arranging an actual or Zoom visit.