Babayaga by Toby Barlow
A Novel

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To propel things along, the ghosts of three witches, old colleagues of Elga and Zoya's, comment on the events like a Greek chorus. In verse, of course...A real joy in the storytelling process comes through as well in the whimsical detours and characterizations.
-LA Times

Synopsis

By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea

Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It's 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn't think he's a warrior—he's just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy who can't seem to figure out Parisian girls.
Zoya is a beautiful young woman wandering les boulevards, sad-eyed, coming off a bad breakup. In fact, she impaled her ex on a spike. Zoya, it turns out, has been a beautiful young woman for hundreds of years; she and her far more traditionally witchy-looking companion, Elga, have been thriving unnoticed in the bloody froth of Europe's wars.
Inspector Vidot is a hardworking Paris police detective who cherishes quiet nights at home. But when he follows a lead from a grisly murder to the abode of an ugly old woman, he finds himself turned into a flea.
Oliver is a patrician, fun-loving American who has come to France to start a literary journal with the help of friends in D.C. who ask a few favors in return. He's in well over his head, but it's nothing that a cocktail can't fix. Right?
Add a few chance encounters, a chorus of some more angry witches, a strung-out jazzman or two, a weaponized LSD program, and a cache of rifles buried in the Bois de Bologne—and that's a novel! But while Toby Barlow's Babayaga may start as just a joyful romp though the City of Light, it quickly grows into a daring, moving exploration of love, mortality, and responsibility.

 

About Toby Barlow

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Toby Barlow is the author of Sharp Teeth. He lives in Detroit.
 
Published August 6, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 401 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Babayaga
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Apr 22 2013

...the history Barlow...)weaves for the babayagas—Elga in particular—is worth reading.

Read Full Review of Babayaga: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg on Aug 02 2013

To propel things along, the ghosts of three witches, old colleagues of Elga and Zoya's, comment on the events like a Greek chorus. In verse, of course...A real joy in the storytelling process comes through as well in the whimsical detours and characterizations.

Read Full Review of Babayaga: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

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72%

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