Mary Kay Zuravleff is the award-winning author of American Ending, a gritty and darkly humorous novel inspired by her family's saga and the fact that she could not find her Appalachian coal mining ancestors—immigrants of the Old Believer Russian Orthodox faith—on any bookshelf. How long does it take to write a book? This one has been in the works ever since her mother named her for her two grandmothers: Mary, who married her Russian-born husband at fourteen and had eleven children, and Kay, who forced the mining company to pay in cash rather than scrip and then got her husband away from the mines before black lung killed him.
Mary Kay is also the author of Man Alive!, a Washington Post Notable Book, as well as The Bowl Is Already Broken and The Frequency of Souls. She is the winner of the American Academy's Rosenthal Award and a multiple recipient of the DC Artist Fellowship. Born in Syracuse, raised in Oklahoma City, and educated in Houston and Baltimore, she lives in Washington, DC.
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"Immersive and compelling. In the dark of Pennsylvania's coal mines, Yelena's voice is both the light and the canary."
—Helen Simonson, author of The Summer Before the War
What's Your American Ending?
At bedtime, Ma asks her American-born children "Russian ending or American ending?" before their bedtime story, a refrain that haunts the book. Readers I meet share their own family's struggles with me--or have a story of a generous act that turned the tide for their ancestors. Seems most people have an "American ending" to tell.
I invite you to tell your "American ending" on YouTube, Instagram, or Tiktok in 3 minutes or less, and send the link to MKZ here for possible posting on this site.