The last book on my Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 list is Yenta Mash’s On the Landing, one of the best Yiddish writers you’ve never heard of, whose short stories were translated into English by Ellen Cassedy.
Little Failure: A Memoir, by Gary Shteyngart, is my next book on the Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 list. It’s not the first or only Russian-Jewish memoir. No, its significance lies in its ability to capture the complexities of becoming an American (and does so in a way that resonates for Canadian readers, too), and leaving behind the Soviet world.
Today’s pick for the Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 list is Boris Fishman’s A Replacement Life. I first read it in 2014 when it came out, and somehow, with the politics of the last few years, the book feels more important now than it did then — less for the insight into Slava’s split identity, and more for the close-up of his grandfather’s generation.
My first selection for the top 10 Russian-Jewish works of the decade is journalist Gal Beckerman’s When They Come For Us, We’ll Be Gone. Published in 2010, the book was — and remains — the first and most comprehensive history of the Soviet-Jewry movement. It won the National Jewish Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and was named a book of the year by the Washington Post.