Playing a Part by Daria WilkePlaying a Part by Daria Wilke

Playing a Part

byDaria Wilke, Marian Schwartz

Hardcover | March 31, 2015

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The first contemporary Russian YA novel translated into English - a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story.

In June 2013, the Russian government passed laws prohibiting "gay propaganda," threatening jail time and fines to offenders. That same month, in spite of these harsh laws, a Russian publisher released Playing a Part, a young adult novel with openly gay characters. It was a brave, bold act, and now this groundbreaking story has been translated for American readers.

In Playing a Part, Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, and spends as much time there as he can. But life outside the theater is not so wonderful. The boys in Grisha's class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he's not "masculine" enough. Life goes from bad to worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favourite actor and mentor, is moving: He's leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia.

How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.

DARIA WILKE was born in Moscow in 1976, and drew on her childhood while writing this novel, as she grew up in a family of puppeteers. She now works at the University of Vienna in Austria. MARIAN SCHWARTZ is an award-winning translator of classic and contemporary Russian literature. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for ...
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Title:Playing a PartFormat:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 8.56 × 5.77 × 0.71 inPublished:March 31, 2015Publisher:SCHOLASTIC INCLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0545726077

ISBN - 13:9780545726078

Reviews

Read from the Book

From PLAYING A PARTMy grandfather wouldn't have guessed anything if Sam hadn't put on his party jacket. When he puts on his party jackets, even a dimwit could guess. Because Sam's party jackets are bright green with black satin lapels or red sparkly ones. Today he puts on a jacket in a navy floral pattern. It's a handsome jacket. "Papa, this is Sam," Mama says happily when she introduces them to each other. She says it as if half of Moscow is wearing jackets like that and it's not anything special. My grandfather straightens up with a jerk, gawks, and looks at me -- and I nod, as if to say, Yes, that's Sam, nothing you can do about it -- and then back at Sam. And Sam smiles at him -- broadly, joyfully. Sam smiles and it's impossible not to smile back because Sam glows like a furnace going full blast. My grandfather says, "Mmm hmm," and that's it. Not even a "pleased to meet you," or something else polite like you're supposed to say in these circumstances. When we're alone in the dressing room -- him and me -- because I have to show him where he can change and leave his things, my grandfather says with disgust, "You're always going on about your friend, your friend! I thought he was a regular fellow, but he's... he's just a queer." And he frowns. "A queer," he repeats disdainfully. It's as if I've been punched in the chest and my whole insides have contracted and squeezed in self-defense. Because I want to tell my grandfather that Sam is the very best actor and now he's leaving and I feel terrible. Sam can turn into a hundred different people onstage. Sometimes Sam seems like an entire world, much better than the rest of the world. I want to -- and can't. Because my grandfather said "queer."

Editorial Reviews

Advance praise for Playing a Part:"A devastatingly affecting portrait of a boy on a quest to find pride in his queerness, a misfit in a society where there is no bigger danger than not measuring up as a man." -Bill Konigsberg, award-winning author of Openly Straight and Out of the Pocket"Russia may seem a world away, but Daria Wilke's beautiful novel brings home the fact that in matters of the heart, we are very close indeed." -James Lecesne, co-founder of The Trevor Project and editor of The Letter Q