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حليب سوفييتي

(“Mēs. Latvija, XX gadsimts” #9)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  4,294 ratings  ·  469 reviews
أم طموحة وشغوفة بالطب تعاني وتنهار من التحولات التي فرضها تحكم السلطة الشمولية في كل مفاصل حياتها الاجتماعية والسياسية والشخصية، حارماً إياها من شغفها وهويتها وحتى رغبتها في الأمومة. ابنة حالمة متعلقة بالحياة تعيش برعاية جدتها، بسبب ابتعاد أمها عنها في كثير من الأحيان وتعيش صراعاً في مجتمع يحكمه الخوف من أي اختلاف فتغدو فيه كل رغبة في التفرد جريمة يجب القضاء عليها. عبر الع ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published 2020 by دار ممدوح عدوان للنشر (first published March 2015)
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Average rating 4.35  · 
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Eric Anderson
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s really exciting seeing the international book community experiencing a surge of interest in Latvian literature. I’m aware that there is a vibrant literary scene in Latvia, but translations of new Latvian fiction are slow in making their way to the West. So I was thrilled to read “Soviet Milk” by established author Nora Ikstena. This book won the Annual Latvian Literature Award in 2015, but has only just been translated and published in English. The story alternates between the perspectives ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
'Soviet Milk' is a novel which mixes despair with a kind of wistful beauty; the claustrophobia of Soviet Latvia is combined with the wistful, ethereal beauty of the Latvian countryside; a country in which the quivers of moon-light on the softly-set snow are off-set by the brutality of the regime which sought to crackdown on any sort of expression, any truth which disagreed with its own narrow definitions of it. The story follows a mother and her daughter; the mother's life overtaken by alcoholis ...more
Antonomasia
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Longlists for 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize & EBRD Prize
This seems like a good novella to read if you're interested in exploring the history of the Baltic States through literature. It's about lives lived, a daughter and mother, under the final 20 years of Soviet communism, a period not covered so often in other recently translated novels I've encountered, and it's one of the too-small number of Latvian books translated to English.

But if you are already familiar with the history, and/or were alive, even in the West, to see it on the news, the book (
...more
Hugh
Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019

I don't have time to write a lengthy review, but fortunately Antonomasia, Neil, Paul and Gumble's Yard have already done that very well.

That this book is currently bottom of the Mookse group's rankings for the Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist is really more an indication of the strength of the list more than a criticism of this book, which is interesting, readable and eventually quite moving. The Latvian perspective on the latter day
...more
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Re read following its longlisting for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize and shortlisting for the EBRD prize.

This book was published by the UK small press, Peirene Press a boutique publishing house with a traditional commitment to first class European literature in high-quality translation.

Perhaps what is most impressive about this book is its origin – certainly the first Latvian novel I have read and I expect one of the few to have been translated into English

As with all Peirene novels,
...more
Paul Fulcher
Longlisted for the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize

The judges' citation:
This is classic Peirene Press: a short, intense novel that seems to contain more than is possible in 140-odd pages. Set in the 1970s and 80s in the Soviet-controlled Baltics, and telling the story of three generations of women, Soviet Milk may be the first Latvian novel you’ve read; we hope there is more to come.
Throughout my childhood the smell of medicine and disinfectant replaced the fragrance of mother’s milk.

My gran
...more
Elena Sala
SOVIET MILK (2018) is a novella which examines Latvian history from 1945 to the fall of the Berlin wall. It was a bestseller in Latvia, unsurprisingly.
It is narrated in alternating sections by an unnamed mother and her daughter. The mother is a fertility specialist whose life begins and ends during the Soviet period. Her promising career has been ruined because of an episode which was absurdly considered a Soviet related crime. She is a tragic figure, destroyed by alcohol and pills, slowly poiso
...more
Neil
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-rofc, 2018
From their website:

Peirene Press is an award-winning boutique publishing house, specialising in contemporary European novellas and short novels in English translation. We only publish books of less than 200 pages that can be read in the same time it takes to watch a film. We pride ourselves on publishing truly big stories in small packages.

We seek out the best of European fiction, producing high-quality first-translations of European best sellers. We work with international agents and publishers
...more
Anni
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why would a mother refuse to bond with or breastfeed her baby?
Milk is a recurring motif in this harrowing and evocative account of three generations of women living under Soviet rule in Latvia, but it is never the milk of human kindness. The impact of radical cultural oppression is especially harsh for women, who must maintain a façade of ideal family life in a state-sanctioned glorification of motherhood, at the expense of intellectual freedom and fulfilment - with damaging psychological reperc
...more
Kimbofo
Nora Ikstena’s Soviet Milk is a powerful novella that explores motherhood, the freedom to pursue your calling and life under Soviet rule.

I read it on a long train journey and finished it feeling as if my heart would break, for the story within its 190 pages is so unbearably sad. Not only does it show how an oppressive political regime thwarts an individual’s ability to fulfil their potential and stifles their intellectual freedom, it also shows the long-lasting repercussions on mothers and daugh
...more
Rincey
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Lauren
"I wasn’t afraid of Uncle Sam, or of nuclear war; I was afraid of my mother."

SOVIET MILK by Nora Ikstena, tr. from the Latvian by Margita Gailtis, 2015 Lat/2018 Eng, Pereine Press.

#ReadtheWorld21 📍Latvia
.
Mother / daughter dual narrative taking place from the Soviet takeover of #Latvia through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991 - a deeply moving tale of love, depression, state politics, and yearning for freedom.

The unnamed mother figure is a gynecologist in Riga, studying the science of fertilit
...more
Viv JM
Soviet Milk tells the story of three generations of unnamed Latvian women, narrated alternately by the mother and the daughter. It spans the period between the late sixties and late eighties. The mother in the story has a promising career ahead of her as a doctor but, on being sent to Leningrad, falls foul of the USSR regime and ends up being banished to a small village in the Latvian countryside. She never really recovers and battles with her demons. The daughter alternates between spending tim ...more
Jackie Law
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Soviet Milk, by Nora Ikstena (translated by Margita Gailitis), is the first title in Peirene Press’s new Home In Exile series. It is set in Latvia during the years of Russian occupation, between 1969 and 1989. It chillingly depicts how ordinary lives are scarred by a regime that works to control how people think, rewarding informants and punishing those who will not conform to state sanctioned voice and behaviour.

The story is told from the points of view of two women, an unamed mother and her da
...more
Klinta
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in Latvian, but it is also translated in English and is called "Soviet Milk". Which in a way I find to be a better title for the content.

It was hard to start this book as it was (seemingly on purpose) written from two perspectives that are easy to mix up. Until suddenly the two perspectives were as different as day and night. For a very short time I flowed together with the book, but then I got stuck and had a hard time, fighting with some paragraphs, reading quickly others.

I
...more
Imi
I wanted to talk about my mother, who lived in a desolate place in the country because she could not live two lives—and could not accept a life of mockery, as Latvia had been mocked.
A short but perfectly formed novella, Soviet Milk presents a Latvian perspective of the dying days of the Soviet Union through an intimate story of two (arguably, three) women in a single family.

The story is told in first person using unnamed and unnumbered alternating chapters from mother and daughter, who also
...more
Kirsty
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the splendid Peirene Press' new publications is Nora Ikstena's Soviet Milk.  Part of the Home in Exile series, this 'literary bestseller that took the Baltics by storm', by an author who has written over twenty books, has been translated from its original Latvian into English for the first time.  This novel, Ikstena's most recent, won the 2015 Annual Latvian Literature Award for Best Prose, and has been highly lauded.  I was particularly interested in reading this title, as I travelled ar ...more
Madisson
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I've been meaning to read this novel ever since I discovered it while living in Latvia in 2018. I had heard rave reviews and was not disappointed in the slightest - it was almost a perfect novel to me.

I sometimes find that when I read books centred on a mother-daughter dynamic, it's either too simplified or the author has tried to make it too 'edgy' and therefore it loses a lot of its poignancy. Ikstena's depiction was complex and realistic, albeit not traditional, and I thought it was
...more
Hele-mai
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It reminded me very much of Milan Kunderas "Unbearable lightness of being", not only because of one of the major themes (which would be the talented doctor refusing to bend their ideals for the soviet regimen) but also because of the atmosphere in general, I believe nothing ever paints a clearer picture of the soviet times for those who haven't witnessed it by themselves than creative literature. It was well written, a truly sad piece but also very beautiful. I also felt the book was sort of sel ...more
Calzean
It took me a while to get into the rhythm of this book. The alternate narrators are a daughter recalling her childhood from her birth in 1969 through to Latvia independence and her suicidal mother who has lost a good job in a St Petersburg hospital and deals with lost of her identity, family and country. The daughter's early life also alternates from living with her unhappy mother and her saintly grandmother and step-grandfather in Riga. Her grandparents have a pride in Latvian before its Soviet ...more
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Even though I knew how it would end, it hit me hard.
Sookie
The writing is so beautiful. Amidst the tragedies and misery, there is softness to narration. The book reads fast and can get quite confusing with rapidly changing perspectives, but in the end, its a worthwhile journey.
I am glad I read this very slowly as it was a rewarding experience.
Jovita
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not mine
Branka
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing story about the relationship between mother and daughter. It is universal story with so many layers. It's told from both perspectives and also from very trouble time of Latvia before the independency and under the Soviet Union.
Thanks to Peirene Press, this book has been translated into English.
Hope all future books from Nora Ikstena will be translated too. She is definitely one to watch.
...more
Alan Teder
Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters
Review of the 2018 English translation by Margita Gailitis published by Peirene Press

August 26, 2019 Update: The only Baltic work to make the #Top100WIT #WomenInTranslation list compiled by crowdsourcing August 2019.
January 14, 2019 Update: Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019

"Soviet Milk" is part of a curated 12-book series called Mēs. Latvija, XX gadsimts (We. Latvia, 20th Century) in which the selected novelists build each work around a ye
...more
Liv
Soviet Milk was such an unexpected delight. I picked up this book having read no reviews and just being entirely taken in by the blurb and the setting as I've never read any Latvian fiction. The novel follows a trio of women: daughter, mother and grandmother in Latvia under Soviet rule. The mother is the central character; her main focus in life is becoming a doctor and we see as she attempts to make strides and developments in gynaecological science under Soviet rule. She's a rule breaker from ...more
Ciaran Monaghan
I got this on an Amazon 99p sale, along with Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė, and both were really good. In this one, we follow the lives of a mother-daughter narrator pair living in Latvia under the Soviet Union. Whilst some of the novel is about the restrictions placed upon personal freedom and expression by the Soviet state, I read it more as a story about depression and its impact on the individual, family members and friends. The mother was a talented doctor and scientist whose ...more
Louise
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What makes this such an interesting story about anguished mother/daughter relationships is the time and the place. It is set during Latvia's last 20 years under Soviet communist rule, both in the city of Riga and in the countryside. We experience the growing pains of the individual, the family, an oppressed society and a hopeful country. ...more
Karen
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Latvia from 1969 to 1989 when the Berlin Wall collapsed. Soviet Milk is the story of a mother and daughter navigating their way through life under Soviet rule.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, particularly the relationship between the Mother and the Daughter.
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Around the World ...: Discussion for Soviet Milk 3 27 Oct 31, 2020 08:10AM  
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Nora Ikstena is a prose writer and essayist. Ikstena is one of the most visible and influential prose writers in Latvia, known for elaborat style and detailed approach to language. After obtaining a degree in Philology from the University of Latvia in 1992, she went on to study English literature at Columbia University. In her prose, Nora Ikstena often reflects on life, love, death and faith. Sovi ...more

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