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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: On the Landing

January 2, 2020 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: On the Landing
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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 List: On the Landing by Yenta Masha

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.

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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: Through Soviet Jewish Eyes

December 31, 2019 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: Through Soviet Jewish Eyes
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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 List: Through Soviet Jewish Eyes by David Shneer

My next selection for the Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 is Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust, by historian David Shneer, which uncovers the role of Jewish photographers in the Soviet photography industry.

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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: Little Failure

December 30, 2019 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: Little Failure
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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 List: Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart

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.

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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: small things left behind

December 29, 2019 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: small things left behind
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SovietJewish Decade Top 10 List: small things left behind by Ella Zeltserman

My seventh book for the Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 is an award-winning poetry book, small things left behind. Full disclosure — the author is my mother, Ella Zeltserman. This is my most deeply personal, and yes, very biased, selection for the list.

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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: A Replacement Life

December 26, 2019 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: A Replacement Life
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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10 - A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

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.

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Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: When They Come For Us We’ll Be Gone

December 23, 2019 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: When They Come For Us We’ll Be Gone
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Soviet-Jewish Decade Gal Beckerman book

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.

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Announcing the Soviet-Jewish Decade: A 2010s Top 10

December 23, 2019 /
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Soviet-Jewish Decade image of bookshelf full of Russian-Jewish books

As the decade comes to a close, I’m looking back at how the Russian-Jewish world has changed. Ten years on, we’re awash in words, in music, in art, in film, and more coming out all the time.

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On #FirstSurvivor and the Russian-Jewish Holocaust experience

January 27, 2019 / Comments Off on On #FirstSurvivor and the Russian-Jewish Holocaust experience
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Walking to the site of a Holocaust mass grave in Romanow, Ukraine

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day—sharing some thoughts on the Russian-Jewish Holocaust experience. There’s a thread making its way around Twitter about #FirstSurvivors, asking people about the first survivor they ever met. This was my response, which I’m posting here too, with some tweaks, before it disappears into the abyss of updates. Like many #SovietJews there's…

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Operation Wedding: A conversation with Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov

January 15, 2019 / Comments Off on Operation Wedding: A conversation with Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov
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Operation Wedding escape plan graphic, designed by Armands Blumbergs.

A while ago I interviewed Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov for an article about her award-winning documentary, Operation Wedding, still one of just a tiny handful of docs on the Soviet-Jewish immigration. It’s the story of her parents’ attempt to escape the USSR in 1970, by hijacking an empty plane and flying it across the border to Sweden.…

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Lost in Immigration: People I Will Never Know

December 31, 2018 /
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This photo was taken a few nights before we left the Soviet Union forever. To my knowledge, it is the only photo that exists of me with all my (at that time living) grandparents. That’s them, in the front row. My paternal grandmother, then my maternal grandfather (holding me), and my maternal grandmother next to…

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