Breaking Stalin's Nose
by Eugene Yelchin
Marfa's one of the few adults in the novel to show Sasha anything approaching kindness (the other is the nice lady he meets in line for Lubyanka prison). She gives Sasha a carrot to eat while he's waiting for his dad to come home. The only other thing we know about Marfa is that she doesn't even have a room in the komunalka: she sleeps "in a cubbyhole next to the toilet" (7.3). How's that for downsized living?