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On the Sunny Side of the Street


An engrossing love drama, an engaging argument on the nature of art and a grandiose polyphonic ode to Tashkent, On the Sunny Side of the Street became a markpoint for Dina Rubina’s spectacular literary career, firmly positioning her as one of the most widely read writer in Russia today.

This is a captivating story of two strong female characters. There’s Katya, who (as a girl) escapes from the siege of Leningrad and is evacuated to Tashkent. In the post war city, overcrowded with people from all parts of the country in desperate and greedy need to survive, Katya quickly learns to use her original skill of grasping mere details and a natural talent for mimicry for criminal purpose: a swindler in local markets at first, she grows into a ruthless head of cannabis smuggling net. Her daughter Vera inherits her mother’s sharp eye and an ingenious talent, but chooses differently, becoming a true artist with a bright international career. Both mother’s and daughter’s ways to professional recognition are nothing less but trying, filled with tragic mistakes, unendurable loss(es) and one true love.

The entwining life stories of the novel’s two heroines are drawn against a gaudy background of an Oriental city, Tashkent, with its sun-soaked bazaars, crowded yards and a picturesque and engaging cast of characters representing different cultural, ethnical and social backgrounds. This lavishness of the story is masterly reflected in the novel’s complex structure. The drama of a bitter mother and daughter confrontation is intersected with numerous first-person narratives from Tashkent’s former residents as they remember the city of their childhood and youth, as well as the author’s own colorful childhood memories.

In this novel Rubina succeeds with brilliance in mastering writing skills that make her literary trademarks: the author’s juicy Babelesque language; a gripping narrative’s plot; a tender humor, grit and passion in a unanimous accord; a vivid, real-life details and characters.

Dina Rubina’s On the Sunny Side of the Street is the work of a literary magpie: the novel combines a comfortable nest of a story with shiny devices and descriptive passages that attract attention and embellish. Fortunately, the story underlying all the decoration is engrossing, thanks to the situations and city, Tashkent, in which Rubina places her characters.

—Lizok’s Bookshelf blog

She is perhaps the only modern Russian-language author who manages to combine elements that are often mutually exclusive, such as popular appeal and critical acclaim, thrilling action and rich, expressive language… Rubina is a virtuoso author. She is adept at coming up with gripping storylines, while at the same time filling her books with real-life details, striking metaphors and believable characters.


Rubina describes Tashkent deliciously, in detail, with its colors, smells, and distinctive speech patterns. Any plot at all could develop amid decorations like these.


These are two works (On Upper Maslovka and On the Sunny Side of the Street) that break out of the format, where good, light fiction rises far above the usual mass level because the literary setting isn’t fabricated but “quilted” with the thread of life, with vitality.

— Voprosy Literatury, 2009

Book details


Novel, 2006

432 pp

Rights sold

  • Italian AncoraNorwegian Cappelen Damm

  • Vietnamese Nhanam

  • Polish MuzaBulgarian Damyan Yakov

  • French Macha Publishing

  • Croatian Hena

  • Simplified Chinese Beijing Qingcheng Culture

  • Armenian Vernatun

Literary awards

  • Winner of the Big Book Award 2007 (3rd Prize)

  • Shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize 2007

  • Longlisted for the Yasnaya Polyana Award 2007

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