Becoming Agie: The Adventure of a Russian transgender scientist entangled in fiction, romance and mystery. Paperback – 28 Dec 2012
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About the Author
Grigory Ryzhakov is a Russian molecular biologist and story-teller living in the UK. He received his MSc degree in biochemistry from Moscow State University (Russia) and a PhD in molecular biology from University of Cambridge (UK). To connect with Grigory, please visit his blog at http://www.ryzhakov.co.uk You can also find him on Twitter - @GrigoryRyzhakov
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Both novellas are quite intriguing. It is so interesting to watch Ben and Agie’s relationship develop. I was a little surprised (perhaps pleasantly so) that many of the issues the couple faced had more to do with Ben’s deteriorating health and less to do with the fact that Ben is attracted to men and finds himself in a relationship with a woman. While on the one hand it might have been nice to see that addressed a little more I think that was not the story that they were trying to tell here. There is a simplicity to this novella both in narrative and events this is both wonderful and frustrating. Wonderful because the story doesn’t get bogged down and is constantly moving forward but a little frustrating because I found myself wanting just a little more.
I think that we get more with Pumpkin Day. I think that we get to see a little more of who Agie really is in Pumpkin Day. We see a lot more of her humor and playfulness. And it is quite refreshing to see. I liked the mystery that occurs here although I think that I could have been a little more involved, not been settled so quickly. But again I think that the mystery here is really just a setting for us to see who Agie has become sense her relationship with Ben.
All and all I find these enchanting and I cannot wait to read more from this author and more of this character. A wonderful set of stories for anyone looking for a quick read with a smart character….who just happens to be trans.
This is a contemporary tale, and I'm using the word "tale" with a specific purpose: even if there are no fantastical element in the story, there is a feeling of surrealism that makes everything ethereal. The first feeling you have is that the writing is almost simple, like someone writing a diary with no target of telling a story; there are no flourishing details, not planned setting. But in the end it's this simplicity that caught you.
Agie is a transgender male to female; one the story starts, she has just had her sex reassignment surgery, but for her own decision, she has not yet completed all the "changes" in her body, and so basically, she still appears like a slightly feminine man. Now please, I'm not an expert of transgender experiences, so if I'm saying something improper, it's done without intention. Feel free to correct me. I had the feeling Agie didn't want to complete her transition because she was still fearing of acceptance. And indeed Ben, a gay man (boy actually) falls in love with her believing she is a guy. But Agie is not someone who wants to live a lie, and she is always very direct in telling people she is transgender. And Ben, cute, sweet, young Ben, who fell in love for Agie, and not for the sex gender she is, opens his heart to that love.
I think these two novellas are very personal and tied to the author; there is a lot of Grigory Ryzhakov in Agie, both Russian, both scientists, both living in a Western town. I don't know if Ryzhakov shares with Agie also something else, what I feel is that Ben, and then Jake, felt like real to me, like they are from Ryzhakov's real life, and that the needs to write the novellas was a mean to exorcize a deep pain but also to affirm the concept that happiness is still possible.
I am glad they have translated the book as well--the words are very simple, but I don't think that is an issue with translation, but rather the sole intention of the author. The content is terse and factual, so as not to confuse its audience. I think the story is an impressive redefinition of what it means to be in love. It is not always a man and a woman, or even a man and a man or woman and woman. At the end of the day, there is nothing complicated about it once you've become who you are meant to be, which is what Agie is trying to do.