The lives of twin siblings are often deeply intertwined—first physically, and later emotionally, mentally and spiritually—and Josh Weil’s The Great Glass Sea explores the tender, yet tenuous, relationship between Russian twin brothers Yarik and Dima. Though they have been inseparable since childhood, life with the Oranzheria, a sea of glass stretching over a section of the country to make the largest greenhouse in the world, is slowly pushing them apart.
Inspired by the true story of Agrokombinat Moskovsky, an area on the outskirts of Moscow that was transformed into a 24-hour greenhouse, The Great Glass Sea is set in an alternate present, where the Oranzheria keeps the residents of the city of Petroplavilsk, Russia, trapped in perpetual sunlight under a dome—the "glass sea" of the title, which is engineered to maximize food production. As the glass sea grows, so does Yarik’s career, as he receives promotion after promotion. Dima, however, is fixated on their old life, their childhood on their uncle’s farm following the death of their father. While Yarik moves up in the Oranzheria’s workforce, Dima lives alone with his mother and rooster, dreaming of returning to his uncle’s land with his brother. The two watch a chasm open between them as they become the faces of these opposing factions, and struggle to find a way to reconcile their separate lives with the love they have always borne for one another.
Weil’s 2009 novella collection, The New Valley, was the winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” selection and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and Columbia University, among others, and his fiction has appeared in publications like Granta, Esquire and One Story. His lyrical prose pulls readers from each paragraph to the next, and is peppered with brilliant and dark imagery as well as colorful Russian folklore, making The Great Glass Sea a must-read for fans of literary fiction.