Guzel Yakhina's debut novel is based on the experiences of her grandmother, a Tatar.
In the 1930s, as part of dekulakization
programme, the Soviets forcefully relocated many Tatars from the European part of Russia to Siberia. Yakhina's grandmother was among them. She was exiled at a young age and was able to return home only sixteen years later.
The novel describes the experiences of Zuleikha, a peasant Tatar woman. Her husband resisted dekulakization and was killed. Zuleikha was transported to Siberia and left in a remote location on Angara River
with little means of survival. Zuleikha had to overcome the harsh conditions, build relationships with other exciles and forge her new identity and reasons for living.