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Meine russische Großmutter und ihr amerikanischer Staubsauger
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Meine russische Großmutter und ihr amerikanischer Staubsauger

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  608 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Tonia, in den zwanziger Jahren aus Russland nach Israel eingewandert, ist eine starke, eigensinnige Frau, und sie hat einen großen Feind: den Schmutz. Ihm hat sie den Kampf angesagt. Kein leichtes Unterfangen in der ländlichen Jesreel-Ebene. Denn im jungen jüdischen Staat sind Chaos, Staub und Schlamm allgegenwärtig, und ihre weitverzweigte Familie tut ihr Übriges, das Dur ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published March 2011 by Diogenes (first published 2009)
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This is a charming and fun book, though it felt a bit too long at times. We get to know Shalev's family, not only the titular grandmother, Tonia. As the story meandered along on it's good-humored way, it became clear that Shalev, the "writer" in the family, is just one in a long line of story-tellers, in every sense of the word. The family lived on and got through the best and worst of times through storytelling. If stories were "embroidered" and everyone's version of an event was different and ...more
I enjoyed 'My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Clear' a great deal. It does tend to meander a little. Sometimes the meandering just enriches the main story; sometimes I think it is actually material for a different book. Meir Shalev's grandmother is the star of this book. Grandmother Tonya was a "character". She was born in Russia and immigrated to Palestine. The author has told of Tonya’s character, goals, likes and dislikes through many humorous stories, most of which are in some wa ...more
Nothing earthshattering, but cute and charming and engaging. In this memoir of his grandmother's fanatical housekeeping, Shalev gives you a sense of the people, the place, and the time. And there was one scene which I found absolutely hysterical.

Incidentally, my husband liked this a lot more than I did which is pretty unusual. So you may want to give it a try despite my lukewarm recommendation. I suspect, though, that a sentimental interest in the time period and its people is helpful.
“My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner” by Meir Shalev, tells the story of his obsessive-compulsive grandmother Tonia, life in Israel, and growing up in a household so encompassed with cleaning that bathrooms are not used (Tonia prefers everyone to do their business outside) and cleaning products like a vacuum cleaner are locked up for fear of dirt contamination. Visitors are told to come to the house from the back, rather than the front door. And Meir’s mother and her sisters a ...more
Alice Meloy
Shalev, author of A Pigeon And A Boy, writes with humor and love about growing up in Israel as a part of a family of Russian emigrants. His grandmother came to Israel in 1923, married and raised a family, constantly struggling to keep her house clean in the dusty Jezreel Valley. When Grandma Tonia's brother-in-law sent her a vacuum cleaner from America, she used it only once, and hidden away to keep it from getting dirty, the vacuum cleaner became almost mythological to Shalev as he grew up. Thi ...more
This delightfully funny family memoir tells many versions of family stories about the author's unusual dirt-phobic grandmother and her shiny American vacuum cleaner sent her by a relative which she wrapped up and enshrined in an unused bathroom--because it got dirty during use and she couldn't abide anything dirty in her house. Along the way, the book also explores family dynamics, the incredible binding power of family story/myth, and the variable nature of family memory. Every bit as original ...more
Sara Cat
Lovely, lovely translation where the biblical references shine through. Funny memoir of a founding family in Israel, pathos and humor, and a charming end. Will definitely be racing to read more of Shalev, which I haven't, and to buy the book to have at the home library.
Do you have any relatives? Then you'll love this entirely remarkable book. Meir Shalev's grandmother Tonia may be a Ukrainian by birth, and a member of a small agricultural settlement in Israel by marriage and fate, and she may be crazier than any of your kin, but you'll be amused, touched and moved by her. Everyone needs an enemy, Shalev tells us, and Tonia's was dirt. She drove herself and everyone around her to keep her house clean. Surrounded by fields and roads that were, in turn, muddy and ...more
19 year old Tonya arrived in Palestine in the early 1920s and declared war. No, not on the enemies of Zion, although she's not fond of them either. Tonya declared war on dirt. Fresh from the shtetl, Tonya meets and marries one of two brothers. Her choice is a scholar, a man not made for the backbreaking labor that a farm commune in Palestine requires. Had he gone to America, like his brother, perhaps he too would have been a wealthy man and Tonya a woman of leisure. But that's not who she picked ...more
Erez Davidi
At the outset, I would like to point out that I read the book in Hebrew; therefore, I am reviewing the content of the book rather than the quality of the translation, and not whether the translator was able to convey the "essence" of the book. Since this book has various references to Israeli culture and a lot of "word games", which are nearly impossible to translate to English, I am somewhat curious to read the English translation of this book.

"My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cle
Louise Silk
Meir Shalev is a fabulous writer and in this very funny and endearing memoir, he tells the story of his obsessively clean grandmother, Tonia, in relation to an American GE vacuum cleaner sent to her by her double traitor brother living in California.

It is the story of Shalev's youth, of life on a moshav in Israel, of the idiosyncrasies of elders transplanted from the old country (in this case Russia) and the effect on modern conveniences on everyday life.

The author has a hilarious way of tellin
Mar 26, 2015 Edith marked it as to-read-someday  ·  review of another edition
À lire pour le titre!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in which Meir Shalev writes about his family and their roots in Nahalal, Israel's first moshav. The Jezreel valley setting and the characters were familiar, as Shalev has set some of his fictional works here. This time the story is a memoir, using his family for the cast and his unique grandmother, and her vacuum cleaner, as the stars. I enjoyed the mixture of family lore with history, and the delightful anthropomorphisms that Shalev uses.
«Un álbum de recuerdos familiares nada convencional y muy divertido.»
Kirkus Reviews

«Una historia de amor sin oscuridad.»

«Mientras leía estas páginas, yo también me convertí en el nieto de Tonia.»
Erri De Luca

«La encantadora y divertida historia de la abuela de Meir Shalev, su obsesión con la limpieza y su complicada relación con su aspiradora americana.»
Die Welt

«Es un libro para todo el mundo. Una lectura rápida y atractiva pero significativa, que te deja un sentimiento cálido.»
Jewish Bost
What a delightful book full of wonderful family stories of the Shalev family. The writer obviously draws a lot of inspiration from his own experiences as I recognised themes and events that appear in his books that I have read. I now look forward to reading the ones that I haven’t had the pleasure of reading yet.
I started out liking the book but midway it began to annoy me. I wondered how an entire book could be sustained concerning a vacuum cleaner and an overly obsessive woman's view concerning dirt. The book was translated and there are several problems with the wording in many cases. Also, too many similes.
Dieses Buch habe ich aufgesogen. Shalevs Humor ist unschlagbar und sein Blick auf das Leben im Norden Israels und speziell des Lebens seiner Familie und da herausstechend der sehr bemerkenswerten Oma Tonia ist liebenvoll, respektzollend und entwaffnend brutal ehrlich, wobei es bei jeder Erinnerung und bei jeder Geschichte in einer Familie mehrere Seiten der Medaille zu erzählen gibt. Aber das haben nun mal familiäre Mythen in allen Familien gemein. Tonia ist mir als Leser mit Putzfimmelmacke sym ...more
Anyone who had a Russian grandmother will understand the obsession with cleanliness in this extreme version. No one ever hated dirt and the potential for it more than Shalev's grandmother. The girls in the family had to stay home from school to clean for the sabbath, as school was not as important as a spotless house. The so-called American vacuum cleaner arrived from L.A., sent by the grandmother's brother. She had issues with him --she saw his life in the U.S. as easy compared to hers as an ea ...more
Extremely tedious I thought
This is a very Israeli book yet also universal. Meir Shalev tells the story of his family with two main characters his grandmother Tonia and her vacuum cleaner or "sveeper" as she calls it. Using these two characters as the centerpiece, he tells the story of a family.or rather stories. The tales are told with love, great detail and a fair amount of humor covering 4 genrations of his family starting with his grandparents who came from Russia to the land of Israel to renew the Jewish homeland. I w ...more
My kind of book, and the perfect uplifting read after Shavit's brilliant but doom-saying "Promised Land." Sure, it's elegiac, about an Israel that no longer exists - in fact, may never have existed, give all the author's admitted "Roshomon"-like versions of the truth. Arabs are mentioned but, this being a memoir primarily of the 1930s through 1950s, not yet a perceived menace (although mention is made of the Arab revolt of the 1930s and of course the war of independence). Taking place on the mos ...more
In deze familiegeschiedenis draait alles om de grootmoeder van Meir Shalev, oma Tonja, van oorsprong een Oekraïense. Oma Tonja is wat je noemt een geval apart, behept als ze is met een haast grenzeloze schoonmaakwoede. Ze poetst en schrobt wat af in haar kleine huisje in Nahalal, een Israëlische landbouwnederzetting waar iedereen elkaar kent. Tonja’s smetvrees gaat ver, heel ver. Er is een douche waar niet gedoucht mag worden (dat doe je maar in de stal), een wc die niet gebruikt mag worden en e ...more
In My Russian Grandmother and her American Vacuum Cleaner Meir Shalev writes a love letter to his grandma Tonia. Tonia is a Russian woman living in Palestine and waging war on dirt. Every doorknob and handle has its own dust rag to keep dirty hands off and dust at bay. Showers are taken outside to keep the bathroom clean and only the most honored guests are allowed in the house. Great Uncle Yeshayahu sends Tonia a vacuum cleaner all the way from America (the land of degenerate gum chewing, dange ...more
This could have worked very well as a short story. Expanded to 200 pages, it has some meanderings, possibly more meanderings than a reader is always in the mood for. The book wanders into different versions of family lore, into all the sensory experiences of traveling to and playing on Israel's first moshav, into a little magical realism that personifies a big shiny canister vacuum cleaner.

The tone is light, warm, affectionately teasing. I loved the passages about the moshav's stance against Ame
Nathalie S
Dec 09, 2011 Nathalie S rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Miri
I love to read about various civilizations, ethnic groups, cultures and so forth. In this book, I learned about the men and women who converged on newly found Israel after WWII and spent the rest of their lives working hard in often very harsh conditions to literally make the desert bloom and be fruitful. Meir Shalev's grandmother came over from Russia and married her dead sister's husband. She was an incredibly energetic woman who is frankly the mother (pun-intended) of clean freaks everywhere. ...more
Peggy Walt
Second book by this author, and a big contrast - funny, charming, a throwback to a way of life that has passed. I particularly enjoyed reading of places I have now visited in Israel, and imagining them as they were. The grandmother is one of a kind! Shalev has a lovely way of revealing events and I wanted to read this little slowly, so it wouldn't end too fast.
Olga Milemis
A lovely book. Not the best one from him but it gives us the background of Shalev's work. As we can see here, many characters from Shalev's novels have their origin in his family/village life. I do still prefer his novels (I read all them) but My Russian Grandmother is a very pleasant lecture, full of memories and descriptions (with all his books we learn a lot about life in israeli little villages and mochawas). I like his love for detailed descriptions (something which in some other authors te ...more
Die Sprache und den Schreibstil des Autors sind einfach wunderbar und spassig zu lesen. Die Geschichte an sich ist schön aufgebaut. Grossmutter Tonia zeichnet sich als einen sehr aufregenden Charakter, dessen Logik nicht immer auch für alle anderen durchschaubar ist, was das Buh für mich auszeichnet. Ich finde es immer spannend eine andere Kultur mit anderen Sitten kennen zu lernen - hier gehts um eine kleinbäuerliche Familie in Israel während den Jahrzehnten im 20. Jahrhundert. Empfehlenswert ( ...more
קורות משפחתו של מאיר שלו. סבתא טוניה וסבא אהרון. וגם הסוויפר שלה - שואב אבק שנשלח מארהב כנקמה ומוצא את עצמו כלוא 40 שנה בחדר האמבטיה . אנקדוטות מחיי המשפחה שכולן סובבות את טוניה מנהגיה, אמירותיה ומחלת הניקיון שלה. הקטע הטוב ביותר בספר הוא המפגש של סבתא טוניה עם אבגייל ונסיונה של אביגייל לרכוש את הסוויפר של סבתא טוניה. קטע קורע שבגללו שווה לקרוא את הספר.
Evelyn R-B
What a fun book. Recommended read particular for Israelis. One has to have some familiarity with the very early period after the establishment of the state of Israel, and the immigrants who live then. It is a funny and charming book.

another note - the term לקצרץ comes from the German/Yiddish Kratzen = to scratch.
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Meir Shalev is one of Israel’s most celebrated novelists. He has received many awards for his work, including the National Jewish Book Award and Israel’s Brenner Prize, both for A Pigeon and a Boy.

A columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Shalev lives in Jerusalem and in northern Israel with his wife and children.

More about Meir Shalev...
A Pigeon and a Boy The Blue Mountain Four Meals Esau: A Novel פונטנלה

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