The Red Passport (Picador, 2007)
Posted: July 7, 2008
"At times throughout these stories, Shonk's narratives sound like a translation of Russian literature, or triumphs of Slavic ventriloquism--not just because of shocking, Babel-like comparisons, but also the occasional Chekhovian quiet gesture . . . and the depiction of a Nabokovian character . . . The Red Passport -- full of all sorts of precarious mixings of horror and comedy, Russians and Americans, saviors and terrorists, disappointments and hopes--is a fine debut collection of tales told in a new, clear voice."--Brian Bouldrey, Chicago Tribune
"The people in The Red Passport, Katherine Shonk's collection of stories about life in post-Soviet society, can be roughly divided between real Russians and those who wish they were; natives trying to get out; well-meaning Americans trying to fit in; and some older types still trying to wake from the nightmare of the New World Order. . . . Shonk sees these and other varied perestroikans with an eye both rueful and ruthless, sympathetic to their dreams even as she sees through them. She writes with the comfortable sense of one who has not only been there but taken a good look around."-- Rodney Welch, New York Times
"The Red Passport is a wonderful first collection of short stories, by the American writer Katherine Shonk, set in present-day Russia . . . Satire contends with clear-eyed pity in these brief chronicles of human fallibility. . . . Shonk writes with a native English speaker's aplomb (and literary inheritance), but her detailed knowledge of the Russian settings and character suggest a Russian upbringing. Whatever the explanation, it cannot detract from the pleasures and insights of these shapely stories with their shared note of rueful humour.
--Brock Baker, Times Literary Supplement
Shonk's story collection, The Red Passport, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2003. Her stories have appeared in Tin House, StoryQuarterly, The Georgia Review, Cicada, Best American Short Stories 2001, and elsewhere. She has received an award and a fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council, and The Red Passport was a finalist for the Society of Midland Authors 2003 book award for fiction.
Since 1999, Shonk has lived in Evanston and worked long-distance as an editor and researcher for Harvard Business School. She is currently writing a novel that is not set in Russia. Her supervisor was Michael Adams.