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American Ending

Mary Kay Zuravleff

December 19, 2023

It’s the early 1900s in an Appalachian town filled with immigrants, and Yelena is the first American born to her Old Believer Russian Orthodox parents. She can cook, clean, and take care of her baby siblings by age nine, but she loves school and wants something different that all the other girls, who get married by 13 or 14, and start having more babies than they can feed. The boys quit school to work in the mines along with the dads, and the Old Believers help each get through one challenge after another. When the mine explodes, it’s just another calamity in their lives. Yelena dreams of the fairy tales and fables she grew up hearing in this satisfying tale about family, community, and surviving as an immigrant in America.

Mary Kay Zuravleff is the award-winning author of American Ending (Blair, 2023), inspired by her Russian Orthodox Old Believer grandparents who lived in the coal-mining town of Marianna, PA. Her third novel Man Alive! was a Washington Post Notable Book, and she is the winner of the American Academy’s Rosenthal Award, the James Jones First Novel Award, and numerous DC Artist Fellowships. The Bowl Is Already Broken, her second novel, was described by the New York Times as “a tart, affectionate satire of the museum world’s bickering and scheming.” In fact, Mary Kay worked for several Smithsonian museums for a dozen years, and she will go to any museum on any topic anywhere she happens to be. This has included the Acme Music Museum in Michigan, the Bee Museum in Quebec, and the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma.

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