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  • Published: 7 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143773573
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

The Unreliable People

A whole community deported across Soviet Russia, a rice farmer and his wife separated through time, a young art student searching for her identity and for love . . .

Is all love doomed under a heartless regime?

Antonina is a student at the prestigious Academy of Art in St Petersburg. At times, though, she feels she might be a better fit at the Centre of Nonconformist Art across town. She knows she stands out as different, being neither Russian, Korean nor Kazakh — and yet she embodies all three. She is Koryo-saram: a descendant of the exiled population that Stalin labelled the Unreliable People. But what does that mean? And who was the strange, elegant woman who came to the window when Antonina was a young child? And why did she entice Antonina to climb out and go on a long train journey through Kazakhstan?

This is a compelling story where love and loss intersect unexpectedly with a Korean fable about a crow king and a rice farmer’s wife.

  • Published: 7 May 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143773573
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

Rosetta Allan

ROSETTA ALLAN is a writer of prose and poetry. Her work is widely anthologised, and she has published two volumes of poetry, Little Rock (2007) and Over Lunch (2010). Her first novel, Purgatory, was published by Penguin in 2014 and was selected by Apple Books as one of the best reads of that year. Rosetta has received the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award, the Metonymy Best Poem Award, a South Pacific Pictures Emerging Writers’ Lab internship, a Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Scholarship, and a Michael King Writers Centre Emerging Writers Residency, and was the 2019 University of Waikato & Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence. In 2016, she was the first New Zealander to take up the St Petersburg Art Residency, located within the Museum of Nonconformist Art in Russia where she spent time researching her second novel The Unreliable People.

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Praise for The Unreliable People

An absorbing novel of disappearances and discoveries against the atmospheric backdrop of the dissolving Soviet empire.

Paula Morris

. . . There's all kinds of layering going on; there's personal lives set against complex, overwhelming political forces and yet people are still managing to fall in love and make connections and bring up their families . . . the cast of characters is incredibly well fleshed out, so it's not just the main characters who feel real but their friends and networks; it's a really good layering of the social and the political and the historical . . . It is excellent . . . the prose is beautiful . . . I found it very compelling . . . highly recommended.

Louise O'Brien, Radio NZ

Beautifully written, this tale will draw readers deep into the fascinating lives of Antonia, a student at the Academy of Art in St Petersburg. It's a love story, however there are many layers with its rich history and marvellous characters.

Linda Hall, Hawke's Bay Weekend

Allan’s evocation of place is particularly vivid and there are some wonderful descriptions of St Petersburg . . . Allan also uses the striking physicality and history of the city to figuratively describe the relationship between Antonina and her art teacher Makar . . . The Unreliable People is a thoroughly researched vivid evocation of a time in European history with which many readers may not be familiar. It is ambitious in its scope and subject matter and as such is a notable addition to recent fiction explored by New Zealander writers in non-New Zealand settings.

Majella Cullinane, Landfall

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The Unreliable People - book club guide

Auckland-based writer Rosetta Allan's latest novel, The Unreliable People is a compelling, contemporary story where love and loss intersect. We asked Rosetta for questions and discussion points to guide your book club.