A Sauce Stealer
by Margarita Meklina
Spuyten Duyvil

"I was a sauce stealer. After grabbing what I could grab, I got down the steps of a fast food fortress, enveloped by the determination of hunger."

Award-winning writer Margarita Meklina brings to her prose a marvelous mélange of memories evinced by her colorful life as a Russian émigré now living in Ireland. This collection ranges from life’s most ordinary happenings to its cock-eyed absurdities. The eponymous tale depicts a woman who has fled from Russia's cold oppressiveness to Dublin's fog, picking up dropped coins in ATM queues and snatching tomato sauce packets from a popular eatery. She's praising her new homeland until a restaurant employee nabs her, threatening to call the cops if she doesn't give back those two little packets. At that moment, she says, she gave up her "Emerald dream." In the opener, "Black Line," the author contemplates her pregnancy and the impending birth of a daughter while recalling and celebrating the life of her 95-year-old grandfather now on his deathbed. In “The Autograph" her heroine goes with her husband to a seedy backstreet to snag the autograph of a once-famous musician. "Professor Ferrara's Flatworms" is an ironically humorous glimpse at two men bonded over their shared love of ancestry and hunting an ancient survivor of harsh history.

Meklina is both at home with English and the times as her characters navigate through the 21st-century intricacies of the Internet as smoothly as through the privations of the Second World War. Her writing has garnered prizes in Russia and has appeared in numerous literary journals. Some of the stories in the book carry the annotation of having been translated by Krystyna A. Steiger, though this person’s work is not attributed in the book’s credits. Meklina is a wry wordsmith who clearly enjoys playing with meaning and nuance. She is comfortable with, and able to warmly portray, a large array of captivating, unconventional people.

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