Zuleikha is the story of a young Muslim woman who is wrenched out of her abusive home and into the Gulag system. The novel is a stark portrait of the Stalinist era, but its focus is on the title character’s sense of hope and resilience: Zuleikha Valieva joins a motley crew of peasants, intellectuals, soldiers, and other displaced Soviet citizens to form an unexpectedly close family in exile. It is no wonder that Zuleikha launched its author, Guzel Yakhina, from her life as a film student to international fame. The book, which is based on the experiences of the author’s grandmother, depicts an often-overlooked slice of history with an optimistic sense of humor and the visual flair of a good movie. Although it was Yakhina’s first novel, Zuleikha won both of Russia’s most prestigious nationwide literary prizes. When Yakhina published her second book last year, it topped Russian sales charts alongside international bestsellers by Dan Brown and Jojo Moyes.