Playing a Part, by Daria Wilke


Playing a Part

by Daria Wilke

Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz

Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015

The first young adult novel translated from Russian, 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 favorite 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.


Schwartz's translation retains the spectacular imagery of Moscow during the holiday season and the magic of the puppet theater.
— Miriam Barajas, Booklist, February 15, 2015
The book’s translator Marian Schwartz is very well-known for her excellent translations of Russian classics, such as Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Goncharov, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Yuri Olesha, as well as contemporary Russian authors, Mikhail Shishkin, Olga Slavnikova, and Andrei Gelasimov. Middle-grade literature is an unusual and quite successful choice for Schwartz. — Olga Bukhina, Global Literature in Libraries Initiatives, April 13, 2017


To purchase directly from the publisher, click here.