The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 16, No. 2

Hallelujah, Family!

by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Translated by Anna Summers

This, in short, is what happened.

1. A young girl worked as a secretary during the day and took classes at night. She came from a respectable family, although her mother had a certain history:

2. She was the illegitimate child of two mothers and one father—you see,

3. there were two sisters: one was married, the other was just fifteen, and she got pregnant by her brother-in-law, who hanged himself while she gave birth to a daughter she hated.

4. That daughter grew up, got married, and had a baby, a daughter.

5. That daughter was our little secretary/student, Alla. Our Alla began to go out with men as soon as she turned fifteen. Her mother cried and scolded her, but nothing helped, and the mother began to lose her mind. In addition to which, she was diagnosed with an illness

6. that promised immobility. She and Alla got along horribly, because

7. Alla was raised by her grandmother (3), who hated her daughter, Alla’s mother, and who, at thirty-five, took her little granddaughter to live with her in a provincial town where she shared a house with her uncle, a much older man.

8. Who knew what lay behind the cohabitation of a fifty-year-old uncle and his niece, the only ones left from a large family after all the wars, arrests, divorces, forced and unforced deaths.

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