Three Apples Fell from the Sky

Narine Abgaryan

translated from the Russian by Lisa C. Hayden
Oneworld 2020
A book review by Danny Yee © 2022
At fifty-eight Anatolia is the youngest person left in the Armenian mountain village of Maran; when she starts bleeding she prepares herself for death. So begins a charmingly upbeat story, of people helping each other, of an outsider finding unexpected pleasure in a visit, of a community coming together, and of new life.

Mixed in with this foreground narrative, most of Three Apples Fell from the Sky retells — in personal stories and in bits and pieces, not in any systematic fashion — the much more traumatic history of Maran and some of its families, going back as far as the Russian Revolution and the Armenian genocide. Once a bustling village, Maran is now down to twenty three households, the result of earthquake, famine, locusts, war, migration to "the valley", and so forth. And, at a more personal level, Anatolia's previous husband was abusive, a young boy experiencing prophetic visions was stigmatised, and so forth. All of that is seen as at a distance, however, and doesn't change the generally positive feel.

There are elements of magical realism in Three Apples, but it is a realistic portrayal of village life, replete with details of landscapes and food and customs and architecture and everyday life. That is done subtly, however, and though Three Apples Fell from the Sky may lack much of a plot it is a compelling story — my nine year old daughter loved it and couldn't put it down.

September 2022

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%T Three Apples Fell from the Sky
%A Abgaryan, Narine
%M Russian
%F Hayden, Lisa C.
%I Oneworld
%D 2020 [2015]
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9780861541119
%P 255pp