Anya Migdal is a writer, translator, and actor living in New York. Tatyana Tolstaya’s Aetherial Worlds (Alfred A. Knopf), which Anya translated, was longlisted for the National Book Award in Translated Literature. Ordinary realities and yearnings to transcend them lead to miraculous other worlds in this dazzling collection of stories. With the emotional insight of Chekhov, the surreal satire of Gogol, and a unique blend of humor and poetry all her own, Tolstaya transmutes the quotidian into aetherial alternatives. These tales, about politics, identity, love, and loss, cut to the core of the Russian psyche, even as they lay bare human universals. Tolstaya’s characters–seekers all–are daydreaming children, lonely adults, dislocated foreigners in unfamiliar lands. Whether contemplating the strategic complexities of delivering telegrams in Leningrad or the meditative melancholy of holiday aspic, vibrant inner lives and the grim elements of existence are registered in equally sharp detail in a starkly bleak but sympathetic vision of life on earth.