Read Pushkin and the Queen of Spades by Alice Randall Online


Windsor Armstrong has a problem: her brilliant boy, Pushkin X, has become a football superstar and is planning to marry a Russian lap dancer. In Windsor's opinion, Pushkin is throwing away every good thing she has given him. When she was an unwed teen mother, Windsor attended Harvard, leaving her shady Detroit roots behind. She raised her son to be fiercely intelligent, weWindsor Armstrong has a problem: her brilliant boy, Pushkin X, has become a football superstar and is planning to marry a Russian lap dancer. In Windsor's opinion, Pushkin is throwing away every good thing she has given him. When she was an unwed teen mother, Windsor attended Harvard, leaving her shady Detroit roots behind. She raised her son to be fiercely intelligent, well-spoken, and proud. Now he lives for pro football and a white woman of no account. Outraged by her son's decisions but devoted to loving him right, Windsor prepares to give up her last secret: the identity of Pushkin's father....

Title : Pushkin and the Queen of Spades
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780618562053
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Pushkin and the Queen of Spades Reviews

  • Stephanie
    2018-09-21 22:23

    Pushkin and the Queen of Spades: A Novel, by Alice Randall, is an extraordinarily rich novel whose richness is partially but not entirely founded on the references she makes to other literary works. The name "Alice Randall," was not familiar to me, but I was peripherally aware of another book she has written, The Wind Done Gone, because it was the subject of a well-publicized copyright violation lawsuit brought by the Estate of Margaret Mitchell; Ms. Mitchell, of course,is the author of Gone With the Wind. Upon ordering The Wind Done Gone from my local library, I saw that Ms. Randall had written Pushkin, as well, and decided to check it out.Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin is the poet who, in Russian language and literature, occupies a higher place in the pantheon than does Shakespeare in English language and literature. (I prefer to interpret this fact as meaning that Russian language and literature has fewer great luminaries than does English. Make of that what you will). Pushkin wrote two novellas that Ms. Randall mines in her own novel, Pushkin. The more well known is The Queen of Spades, which tells the story of a grasping German living in Russia and serving in the Russian military, who seeks to win at cards by terrorizing an old Countess into telling him her supernatural secret. She does so before she dies of fright, and he plays the cards at the gambling table, only to find out, at the last card (where he has staked everything), that the old Countess has struck back at him from beyond the grave: he names the ace but the Queen of Spades comes up. The less well known is Peter the Great's Negro, an unfinished novella, telling the story of Pushkin's own great-grandfather, Abraham Hannibal. Abraham was an African, kidnapped (perhaps from Ethiopia) and sold into slavery, to be purchased and raised as god-son by Peter the Great, czar of Russia. Pushkin tells the story of his ancestor's dalliances with a French Countess in France, and then, upon return to Russia, of his upcoming nuptials -- at Peter the Great's orchestration -- to a high-born Russian lady. The novella ends there, with Abraham's doubts that his future white bride will ever come to love him, a black man.And so we come to Ms. Randall's novel. She tells the story of a black woman, Windsor, who was born in Detroit of gangster royalty, raised in Washington D.C. by a manipulative and vicious mother, impregnated by rape before she started her freshman year at Harvard, and who bore the baby, named him "Pushkin" (in honor of the great Russian poet with a black ancestor), and eventually became a tenured professor at Vanderbilt. Pushkin, Windsor's son, grows up to be an NFL star. The ostensible conflict arises when Pushkin announces his intention to marry white Tanya, a pole dancer who immigrated from Russia. This story -- Windsor's story -- is a good story in its own right. She traces her own ancestry, vividly evoking her father and other members of her family, and grounds herself as a black scholar, having grown up in our own imperfect, racist America, who now has achieved a place in the "ebony tower." She struggles with her feelings about the rape that culminated in the birth of her beloved son, and with her feelings about her son's choice of mate. (A portion of this may well be autobiographical; see the Wikipedia entry on Alice Randall). And since Windsor is a scholar, significant portions of the tale are told with references to other literary works, enriching the story with their own stand-alone meanings. There is a pivotal reference to Gone With the Wind, Ms. Randall's own bete noire, important comparisons to Shakespeare's Othello, copious references to Peter the Great's Negro, and one -- glancing -- reference to The Queen of Spades. Windsor compares her mother, who orchestrated Windor's rape, to the Queen of Spades, that is, to the old Countess who takes her revenge on Pushkin's protaganist from beyond the grave. I feel as though I am missing something here -- clearly Pushkin's The Queen of Spades means more to Ms. Randall than the mere use of the word "spade" as a deragatory synonym for "black" -- but I do not see the parallels. Of course, Windsor herself, as Pushkin's mother, may play the "Queen of Spades" role in this novel, but in order for that to work, just as for the comparison to Windsor's mother to work -- Windsor must rewrite the ending to Pushkin's Queen of Spades as she rewrites --nay, completes -- the unfinished novella of Peter the Great's Negro. In Windsor's story, her own machinations and her mother's machinations may well turn out to bear happy fruit, whereas the old Countess's revenge completely ruined Pushkin's protaganist. All in all, though, a good -- interesting and thought-provoking -- read.

  • Empress5150
    2018-09-22 02:18

    Years and years ago, I read Randall's "The Wind Done Gone", a (not sure if you'd call it a parody) of "Gone with the Wind". You might recall there was quite a bit of controversy about the book; Mitchell's estate sued Randall for unauthorized use of Mitchell's work (ring a bell with any Harry Potter fans?) In the end,Randall prevailed and the book was published. I found "Wind Done Gone" a hoot and actually quite well-written. Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago; I was browsing the library Audio book shelves and came across "Pushkin and the Queen of Spades". Interesting title, no? It's about Windsor, a 40-something African American woman, highly educated (a Professor at Vanderbilt) and fiercely devoted to her race, who discovers that her only child, a 20-something professional football player whom she named after an African American poet who (supposedly, I'm not sure as I've not researched this) invented the modern Russian language, is about to marry a white Russian lap dancer. The entire book is written as a letter/memoir from Windsor to her son Pushkin. It goes back and forth between Windsor's (dysfunctional) childhood, her college days at Harvard, the circumstances around Pushkin's conception, her love of Pushkin the Russian, etc., etc.Frankly, I should have stopped listening to this after the 1st CD. Although well written, it was immediately apparent that this was going to be a rant on white people. Although tolerable in "Wind Done Gone", I found it way over the top in this story.I plowed on, though; parts of it were engaging enough even as I rolled my eyes at others.Around disk 8, Windsor is summarizing "everything" for Pushkin in what basically amounts to a rap poem. This went on for TWO disks and, by the time I got to disk 10 (the last disk), I'd had enough and stopped listening. So, for me to get to almost the end and give up, that should tell you that it really, really sucked!

  • Kiini Salaam
    2018-08-30 23:19

    This book was slow b/c of the approach the author chose. It is a lot of internal monologue and a cyclical time structure. The book hits its stride about midway when the kaliedescopic stories the author has been telling about her childhood, as well as the kaliedescopic stories she has been telling about her life as a mother start to line up and the reader has a sense of the linear time frame of these events. Before the story clicks, it's a bunch of interesting stories that you know hang together somehow, but you're just not sure how. After it clicks, the novel is quite moving and engaging. I found one excerpt quite shocking--when the father explains why the daughter could never be "turned out"--but also moving. I skipped a lot of the internal monologue/internal conversation as some of it just didn't intrigue me as much as the characters interacting. Overall it was a good read, even if I had to push to get through the initial chapters.

  • Arvella
    2018-09-15 01:56

    I have no idea what I read. But I'm finished. The book started out with a mother grappling with upcoming wedding of her son to a Russian woman. The story uncovers how she came to have a son at a young age; her relationships with her parents and her love for Alexander Pushkin. There was A LOT of poetry type writing, as well as the story going back and forth between the present and future. Whew! I haven't given up on Alice Randall. I'm planning to read Ada's Rules.

  • Miko Lee
    2018-08-25 23:05

    Disappointing novel focused on a 43 year old African Amer Russian professor who is distraught over her NFL sons impending marriage to a Russian stripper. Winding thru history and back to an obvious reconciliation at the end. Characters were not compelling despite the enticing cover and intriguing link to the real Pushkin.

  • Inda
    2018-09-16 03:17

    I wrote some of my reflections of the book and how I looked at it as a writer on my blog:

  • Cheryl
    2018-09-07 23:10

    Interesting book, I didn't like Windsor very much when I first met her. I thought she was a bigot, a snob, and way, way too judgmental. The more I read of her story and her background the more I softened towards her, at the same time she softens towards Tanya her beloved son's fiancee.

  • Ann
    2018-09-06 23:22

    Really, really good. Gritty. Honest. Amazing.Alice Randall is one of my son's profs this semester -- and next as well. Lucky him. She is a Vanderbilt treasure.

  • zoya
    2018-09-16 21:17

    "...anything you have enough time to go back to, has time enough to change." - Alice Randall

  • Karen White
    2018-09-08 19:10

    The scenes in Detroit brought back memories.

  • Chanel
    2018-09-10 23:58

    starts slow, but pretty good

  • Clare
    2018-08-31 00:08

    read this for bookclub. Thought-provoking. Worth reading!