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Moscodephia

Charles Rafferty

Magda Puzanov knows three things about her world: the taste of angel meat, the perils of loving an albino, and the smudge of pollution on her horizon, which is all she can see of Moscodelphia — the city that can end her poverty.

Magda is a farm girl who falls in love with Anton Petrovich, an albino reputed to have magical powers. When the crops begin failing across the countryside, Anton’s neighbors grow hungry and fall back on their old superstitions. It is Magda’s own brother who cuts off one of Anton’s fingers for a charm, and Magda realizes that Anton must flee to Moscodelphia, alone.

Magda bides her time on the family farm until she is captured by a team of “collectors.” These men are in charge of extracting the countryside’s wealth and shipping it back to Moscodelphia. This includes marriageable girls. Ever the optimist, Magda sees her kidnapping as a chance to reunite with Anton.

But Magda is bid upon and purchased by Josef Rabinovich, a bureaucrat rising through the ranks of the Ministry of Opulence. At first, Magda is astonished at the luxury Josef provides, but she leads an increasingly brutalized life until she finds Anton again, years later, in an open-air market. They conduct a love affair and plot their escape from a city full of poison and an ongoing plague of falling toads.

"Moscodelphia is extraordinary. Terrifyingly spare in its language and pace, this debut novel by one of our best poets unfolds into a tale that holds dystopic caution and the hunger of love in two steady hands. Readers of Rafferty's poetry will know he is a master of the dramatic monologue and the prose poem, and here he has brought those talents to bear on a narrative that depicts a nightmarish future with irony-laced realism. J.C. Ballard would be proud, and a little scared."

-Andrew Krivak, author of The Sojourn and The Bear

About the Author

Charles Rafferty is a poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in such places as The New Yorker, O, Oprah Magazine, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. His many books include The Smoke of Horses (prose poems) and Somebody Who Knows Somebody (flash fiction). He has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, as well as the 2016 NANO Fiction Prize. Currently, he co-directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College and teaches at the Westport Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

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