Waiting for Selinsky

In the opening sequence of Olga Grushin's novel The Line, a respect­able middle-school literature teacher approaches an old man in front of a kiosk with an innocent question: "What are they selling?" The old man's answer is haunting: "What would you like?"

"I'm sorry?"

"They are selling . . . whatever you would most like to have. What would you like?"

Anna, one of the story's three central characters, does not know the answer, and she has no intention of revealing her confusion to a stranger. But the book draws the reader into that question. What do you most want? Is it an object? A state of being? A form of consciousness? What would you be willing to sacrifice to get it? The Line is a powerful, even profound meditation on the nature of desire and its cousins—greed, longing and hope.


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