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I Named My Dog Pushkin

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Buy a pair of Levi’s, lose the Russian accent, and turn yourself into an American. Really, how difficult could it be?

Fake an exit visa, fool the Soviet authorities, pack enough sausage to last through immigration, buy a one-way Aeroflot ticket, and the rest will sort itself out. That was the gist of every Soviet-Jewish immigrant’s plan in the 1980s, Margarita’s included. Despite her father's protestations that they'd get caught and thrown into a gulag, she convinced her family to follow that plan.

When they arrived in the US, Margarita had a clearly defined objective – become fully American as soon as possible, and leave her Soviet past behind. But she soon learned that finding her new voice was harder than escaping the Soviet secret police.

She finds herself changing her name to fit in, disappointing her parents who expect her to become a doctor, a lawyer, an investment banker and a classical pianist – all at the same time, learning to date without hang-ups (there is no sex in the Soviet Union), parenting her own daughter ‘while too Russian’, and not being able to let go of old habits (never, ever throw anything away because you might use it again). Most importantly, she finds that no matter how hard you try not to become your parents, you end up just like them anyway.

Witty, sharp and unflinching, I Named My Dog Pushkin will have fans of Samantha Irby and Jenny Lawson howling with laughter at Margarita’s catastrophes, her victories and her near misses as she learns to grow as both a woman and an immigrant in a world that often doesn’t appreciate either.

244 pages, ebook

First published July 29, 2021

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Margarita Gokun Silver

5 books11 followers

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5 stars
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18 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,665 reviews276 followers
July 22, 2021
thanks to the publisher and net galley for a free copy in return for an open and honest review

Felt this book in parts was a laugh out loud memoir of a Russian woman moving to the states late 1980's from the former soviet union and her essays about life marriage her daughter and her family and her experiences and she explains her life beforehand.
Profile Image for Alisa.
237 reviews19 followers
July 8, 2021
"Jewish citizens of the USSR were not Russian, would never be allowed to be Russian, and would be laughed at if they showed up at a passport office and asked to be recorded as Russian."

I was drawn to this book because I share a similar background to the author. Like Silver, my family also immigrated from Russia (albeit at a later date, in 1998, when the immigration process was markedly different). Though I was seven years old at the time, I remember the experience in bits and pieces - marked by confusion, a sense of disorientation, the anxiety that came with having to learn an entirely new language and assimilate to a foreign culture. Like Silver's family, my family came to the United States in anticipation of better opportunities and acceptance. The quote above rings true for me as well: my grandmother's passport papers are marked with "Jewess" rather than "Russian," though Russia is the land of her birth.

For these reasons, though Silver's narrative is full of humor and funny anecdotes, it was also a bittersweet reading experience for me. As I read, I could not help but think of my own family's experiences, as well as the trials and trepidations faced by millions of ex-Soviets seeking a new beginning. I appreciated the author's candidness and optimism throughout her memoir. I came away with the thought that, even in situations of hardship, there is always opportunity for humor and lightheartedness.
Profile Image for Aoife Cassidy McM.
449 reviews112 followers
October 17, 2021
This is a series of essays by the author on her childhood in Communist USSR, her emigration (read: escape) to the US in the early 90s and her life as a Russian Jew in America.

After a promising start with some laugh out loud moments, this book petered out a little. There are some fascinating and grim insights into life in the Soviet Union in the 80s/90s (take note, a certain famous author who in her last book pronounced that the beauty of the world ended with the Soviet Union lol) and the author touches on the anti-Semitism experienced by her daughter many years after she experienced it herself (same sh*t, different decade). The book is quite repetitive though and has a mystifying number of footnotes. Not a bad read but not a must read, if that makes sense.

**Thanks to @netgalley and the publishers @threadbooks for a digital copy of this book which was published in July.**
Profile Image for Zibby Owens.
Author 5 books14k followers
January 29, 2022
This collection of essays follows her journey from growing up Jewish in the Soviet Union to y suddenly being seen as Russian in America. The essays were a funny, witty look at the author's immigration from the USSR and all of the things that came with the move. The author has a funny list of how to do "Jewish" right in the book.

I loved one passage when the author talked about her husband and how he told your daughter about the Holocaust when she was young. She wrote, "If you're surprised that a nine-year-old Jewish girl didn't know she was Jewish, don't be. I'm surprised at this myself now, but that's because I raised my daughter to be proudly Jewish, sent her to a Jewish day school and then to Hebrew school, and paid for a large gathering of family members to witness her become a bat mitzvah and then dance the night away on a dance floor filled with thirteen-year-olds. My daughter knew she was Jewish the moment my husband told her about the Holocaust when she was two. He didn't hold back either. Gas chambers were front and center in that story. I kid you not. For the record, I wasn't on board. I thought he could've waited until she turned three. In contrast, I didn't know I was Jewish until that boy pointed at me and shared my ethnicity with the whole class because he was proud he could read and that information was readily available in the teacher's journal."

To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at:
https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/mar...
Profile Image for Electra (spoonfulofhygge).
127 reviews9 followers
October 3, 2021
I had high hopes for this as it is not a premise I have ever come across (told in a funny way) and I am very much interested in the topic of people needing to leave USSR and start their lives again in a foreign country, all with the culture class and change of well.. everything.

Unfortunately, although this started in quite a promising way, it quickly became repetitive making me unable to fully finish it as I was no longer interested in reading the same (or similar jokes). Although a short book to begin with, it could have been shorter even and have the reader (me) hooked till the end instead of overplaying what we have visited a couple of times already.
Profile Image for Stacy.
1,098 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2021
In I Named My Dog Pushkin (And Other Immigrant Stories), we learn about author Margarita Gokun Silver's experience emigrating from Russia and her life in America. This was a hilarious memoir that made me laugh. At other points, it is heartbreaking to hear how Margarita and her family were treated in the USSR due to being Jewish. I enjoyed her use of footnotes throughout her essays. If you like memoirs that can at have times have dark humor, I recommend checking this one out!

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Kamilė.
56 reviews
July 23, 2021
eARC acquired thanks to NetGalley.

"When you immigrate to the US from behind the Iron Curtain, you ponder a lot of questions about America. Why are there no fences around these houses? I can see straight into their living room—don't they have curtains in this country? Cereal served with cold milk, what kind of soggy hell is that? This tomato has no taste, did it even come from the earth? Why do they call this game "football"if they carry the ball instead of kick it? what is tuition? HOW MUCH?"

This was an entertaining book to read, having grown up in a post-soviet society. The references were humorous — I read out some of them to my mother, who had a very similar upbringing at the same period as the author, and she found them relatable as well. That being said, the humour felt a little /too much/ at times, some jokes felt forces solely for the sake of making this or that passage funny. Some essays dragged more than others, the timeline was difficult to track towards the middle and the book started to feel a little too long. The ending of "Great Expectations, the Beginning" felt rushed and underdeveloped. "Sex and the Soviet Union" had an issue that I felt persisted in a few other essays – while the analysis and insights in the middle were interesting and insightful, the airport story surrounding it was kind of pointless. "Old habits die hard" honestly dragged a whole star down for me, if I wanted to read about the misery of heterosexual marriages I'd just read one of the gossipy news portals in my country. "Letters to my American daughter" was a touching final act and Silver's sincerity in discussing her self-identity as an emigré was a lovely wrap up to this collection.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, fast-paced read, though it might be a bit more difficult for a Western audience to understand. Some of the essays are gems and Silver's sense of humour is delightful. Unfortunately, similar to the structure of a few essays, the first half of the book is its absolute strong point and it's a shame the quality is not maintained throughout.

And seriously, what the hell is wrong with tomatoes in the West?
Profile Image for Jilly.
198 reviews4 followers
July 15, 2021
Gokun Silver's collection of essays I Named My Dog Pushkin (and Other Immigrant Tales) is a funny yet dark recollection of her family's experience leaving the USSR for the United States (by way of Italy) during the late 1980s. One of the things that I think makes Gokun Silver's point of view in her essays is unique is that she was 20 when her family left the USSR, so her essays feature really vivid accounts of what it was like growing up during a time of open anti-Semitism in the USSR and the experience of being an adult immigrant leaving a country behind for a new one. I think this makes the collection stand out a bit from others I've read because neither experience is romanticized.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Jake Engelman.
1 review11 followers
July 5, 2021
I may be slightly biased because I’m married to a Russian immigrant, but I loved this book. Margarita’s series of essays chronicling her experience coming to the US from the Soviet Union are at once thoughtful, humorous, and at times even a bit heartbreaking. This hit very close to home for me, as I have seen first hand the ways in which a Soviet upbringing can affect day to day life, even decades later. Margarita’s expressive writing made this an easy and entertaining read, and gives readers some (mostly) light-hearted insight into what it was like for those that broke through the Iron Curtain.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Catalina.
746 reviews40 followers
September 23, 2021
I am not Jewish and I am not Russian, but I hail from a former Communist country, under Russia's influence for decades, and so many of Margarita's experiences felt very close to home. Yes, I know exactly how it is to queue for hours for bread or eggs for them to finish right when you are finally 3rd in line if not next to be served. Therefore you won't ever see me queuing for Apple products or any other unnecessary items ;)

Despite being so familiar with "the plot" for lack of a better word, I absolutely loved reading this memoir. I suspect it is due to Margarita's voice. I totally loved her humour, her self deprecating tone, even her bitterness that I am so familiar with. Her fears were my fears, her progress has been my progress, her "eureka" moments have been equally shared by myself and many others coming from a communist country. Thank you, Margarita for sharing your journey with us!

*Book from NetGalley with many thanks to the publisher.
Profile Image for Chantal Lyons.
265 reviews35 followers
May 24, 2021
This is a darkly funny collection of personal essays from a Russian émigré, reminiscent of other acerbic comedian authors like Sara Barron ('The Harm in Asking'). It was fascinating in itself to read about Silver's experiences, not just as a Russian but a Jewish Russian, and having to grapple with that part of her identity in the U.S.

The book is surprisingly hard-edged (even more so than you'd expect from the blurb), and a few of the pieces were more stressful than funny to read, and I think overall it could've been edited down a little. However, I was entertained for most of it!

(With thanks to Thread Books and NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review)
Profile Image for lafemmeabsurde.
83 reviews47 followers
July 29, 2021
Pub Day + Book Review | ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A cross cultural mish mash, spicy, sweet, sometimes pulls the strings of your heart but always entertaining.

I'm so thankful @bookouture for my copy of this masterful book.

The story is about an elder millenial Jewish citizen of the Soviet Union who takes the plunge all the way to the other side of the globe in search of acceptance, peace and a better life.

The Book delves deep into the issue of Jewish Russian citizens being alienated, denied a place in Russia's cultural canon.

During the 1990s antisemitism was an enduring undercurrent and source of anxiety, its presence affirmed by easily accessible antisemitic newspapers and other publications, street or popular antisemitism.

Art weaves through life, love, family and international politics in this gorgeous book.

The author is beyond hilarious, the David Sedaris comparisons are NOT a rumor! The book is superbly fast-paced, something that is always cherry on the cake for me ❤ I laughed out loud several times through the book. It's not just funny, it has a lot of heart in it - which makes it all the more special. Silver's competence and eloquence as a writer is not up for debate.

I'm definitely looking forward to more of her writing and I know there will be more, it would be unfair otherwise 😅

#inamedmydogpushkin #margaritagokunsilver #bookstagram
Profile Image for Shay.
231 reviews17 followers
August 11, 2021
This was a quick, fun read. The short essay format reminded me of the ultimate situational humorist and one of my all-time favourite authors, Mr David Sedaris, but unfortunately that's where the similarities ended.

In this book Margarita recounts her immigration story, leaving Cold War era USSR with her family and ultimately arriving in the bright and shiny USA she had previously only dreamed about.

Each essay covers a central theme (the immigration process, her career choice, food, her daughter, her elders, her Jewishness etc) and provides amusing and sometimes surprising anecdotes comparing the two countries, their lifestyles and cultures.

As someone who grew up in Australia with very little experience with this era of the Soviet Union I loved hearing real examples of the differences between the countries.

Margarita brought a great energy to her stories and I enjoyed her self-depracating style overall. I did find the lists to be repetetive after a while, but I think that might have been a side-effect of listening to stories in close succession.

I listened the the audiobook and the narration was well delivered with excellent pronounciation.

I'd recommend this as something lighter for anyone curious about a personal account of life in cold war USSR and how a significant cultural change can influence someone.
Profile Image for books4chess.
162 reviews10 followers
May 28, 2021
“In the Soviet Union no one paid for heating because Communist elves made sure it was always there and free”.

Margarita delivers a sharp, witty memoir through a variety of mid-length essays about her family’s emigration and immersion process from the USSR to the USA through a non-linear timeline. She comedically retells their journey to Italy on forged papers, bad luck and potential jinxes superstitiously attributed to her actions.

The memoir was bittersweet, underlined by a clear theme of Antisemitism. We learn how ethnicity overrode nationality in the USSR and Gorbachev directly fuelled hatred with discriminatory policies, forcing Margarita - once aware she was Jewish- to hide it. In my favourite essay, she pens a beautiful letter to her daughter, Eliana, shocked that similar challenges exist 30 years on in the USA, but proud that her daughter speaks out against classmates who ‘hail Hitler’ and ’tell her to go to the gas chambers’. Margarita captured Jewish joy and grief together perfectly in one short memoir, for which I am grateful.

Margarita presents her version of history through the use of dark humour, admitting repressed bitterness at times and giving full transparency when something was in fact a ‘cultural norm’ and unlikely to be in the history books. The story doesn’t have a clear plot, instead delivering a very open, well-rounded series of events, ranging from lists of recipes to rants about her husbands untidy habits. She offers up her own form of ‘seize the day’ advice, both in the essay “the-should-have-done-it bucket list’ but also throughout her entire journey, where she repeatedly capitalises on her stubbornness to reach her goals and overcome repeated hardships.

The book takes us through the highs and lows of navigating immigration and religion, as well as a list of delicious sounding hors d'oeuvres. For me, its 5/5 ⭐️

Thank you NetGalley for the Arc in return for a fair review. This gem will be published on the 29th July!
52 reviews
December 5, 2021
2.5
the author is just. not as funny as she thinks she is. and then the book is entirely made up of complaints which could be okay if it was like. actually funny but alas
plus .5 for the fact that she's constantly mentioning she's a writer and making me think I could also be a writer without being able to write well. also for me knowing most of the russian that she included bc that was fun
Profile Image for Priyanka  M.
53 reviews1 follower
August 6, 2021
As I started reading the book, initially I found the book amusing, engaging and humorous. And guess what you have Trump jokes! The combination of a conservative family of Jewish and a rebelling 20-year old, set on immigration to an unfamiliar land was a unique concept for me.

After reading more than half of the book, I felt that book started getting repetitive and was not so funny anymore. At many places, I felt either the essays were unnecessary, dragged a lot, underdeveloped or rushed.

Overall this book was enjoyable, thought-provoking and hilarious!

Read the full review at my blog!
158 reviews6 followers
Read
June 9, 2021
No stars sorry this was dreadful.

From the cover it appears to resemble essays collections from the likes of Samantha Irby and Jenny Lawson., both of which I have absolutely adored recently . So I rushed to request this advance copy of title from publishers. Unfortunately aside from the cover art style this does not resemble their works in any way.

To start with this book is just not funny. Perhaps something was lost in translation due to the authors heritage and I wonder if this is just the Russian sense of humour that I am just not familiar with . I quickly found myself painstakingly combing the text trying to find where the humour was in case it was just not my personal taste but could not even find any noticeable attempt.

Then I tried to just read the book as a straight forward memoir and imagined it to at least provide me with insight regarding the experience of author as a person emigrating from Russia to the United States. However this was also not provided in the prose which was dry , flat and often difficult to follow. There was too much use of the Russian language and an assumption that reader was familiar with Russia and its culture along with lengthy criticisms of her husband and family, Far too much time was spent telling us about what things were like in Russia and not enough time sharing discovery of America and its culture to the reader . The author tended to ramble with no clear theme or structure and while reading I could not see the point of the endless lists the author seemed to have an obsession with including.

I had high hopes for this book from its marketing as a comic memoir and feel like this could have been done so much better.

I received this book as ARC courtesy of publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Julia Kobel.
Author 1 book3 followers
September 25, 2021
I was interested in reading this book because I’m first generation American, born to Soviet immigrants. I was curious to understand some of the strange mannerisms of my family that none of my American friends had and this book certainly opened my eyes to that. I was particularly impressed by how well Margarita was able to articulate her experiences, which no one in my family has been able to do, so this is definitely a testament to her writing skills! Best of all, she made a potentially dry topic very humorous and on many occasions I found myself laughing out loud and nodding my head in recognition. My only critique of this book is that I would’ve liked to read about more details/anecdotes of her day to day life in Soviet Russia; instead, this was more of a detailed account of her American integration experience.
32 reviews8 followers
August 4, 2021
𝙍𝙀𝙑𝙄𝙀𝙒

I NAMED MY DOG PUSHKIN (and other immigrant tales)
Author: Margarita Gokun Silver

pub date: 29 July 2021
#gifted by @netgalley in exchange for an honest review

⚠️ CW: antisemitism, racial slurs, misoginy, miscarriage, cancer

𝙎𝙔𝙉𝙊𝙋𝙎𝙄𝙎:
"Buy a pair of Levi’s, lose the Russian accent, and turn yourself into an American. Really, how difficult could it be?

When she and her family arrived in the US, Margarita had a clearly defined objective – become fully American as soon as possible, and leave her Soviet past behind. But she soon learned that finding her new voice was harder than escaping the Soviet secret police."

𝙈𝙔 𝙊𝙋𝙄𝙉𝙄𝙊𝙉
Described as "witty and acerbic", this collection of essays/memoir contains, in fluid and very humorous writing, the story of the life of Margarita Gokun Silver, from when she was a Jewish child and then teenager growing up with her family in communist USSR in the 80s, until now, when she has her own daughter and husband and lives with them in Europe.

This is a book about Russian and Jewish history, culture, religion, identity, womanhood, about realizing what matters the most to you and sticking with it. About how Margarita tried to avoid anything that was part of her identity as a Soviet-Jewish woman but in the end realized that the things she really needed to get rid of were negative feelings such as envy, jealousy, disappointment or being overly judgmental.

As a white woman who never traveled abroad I have no experience on immigration of any kind, or on pretty much any of the other things the author discusses in this book but I do understand wanting to be anything as what I was born as or live in any place but the one I grew up in, away from the people that surrounded me but made no effort to understand me, the real me (according to my standards anyway). That part, for me, can be universal and relatable to many of us.

Some of the essays felt a bit long, but I still enjoyed reading this book. It amused me and gave me perspective and information on things I knew nothing about.

#INamedMyDogPushkinAndOtherImmigrantTales #NetGalley
1 review
October 6, 2021
Collections of funny essays are usually a mixed bag. Most of the essays are amusing, a few are hilarious, and several seem to only be there to make the manuscript book length. But I like humor writing and I'm an optimist, so I'll often try collections by unfamiliar authors, especially if I stand to learn something new. I read a review of this book on the NPR website and bought it on a whim. I'm so glad I did!

This collection is funny throughout! I'm not saying I loved every essay equally, but I've already listened to the whole book twice. Gokun Silver's prose is sharp and effervescent, managing to touch on history and important issues in between jokes. There's stuff about antisemitism in the USSR, the culture shock of moving from a communist nation to a capitalist one, and heaps about Russian culture. The author also makes the wise decision to tell her story thematically, rather than chronologically. Though the book is, at heart, a memoir, Gokun Silver's method allows her to serve up the funniest parts of her experience without the mountain of exposition that a linear approach would entail.

Also—for any readers considering this book based on the title—Pushkin the dog is entirely incidental and appears for maybe three paragraphs toward the beginning. So, if you're a dog-lover looking for a heartwarming story of how a puppy helped a young émigré adjust to a new life in America—this is not that book.

Finally, I loved how this collection coheres in a way that many funny collections don't. The theme, Gokun Silver's experiences as an expatriate, makes the book all the more satisfying. In short, this collection is funny, smart, and observant. It's worth your time.
Profile Image for Terzah.
492 reviews23 followers
May 12, 2022
I've been on a kick of reading essays by Gen X women and liked the Russia connection with this one, which was occasionally funny, but sometimes rambling and overlong. I loved the interjection of Russian phrases and their literal translations side by side with the subtexts of the phrases. Some of the snobbishness about appearance the author documents (in herself as well as others) is retrospectively terrifying for me when I think back on my Peace Corps experience in Russia. I was certainly the least elegant of all the teachers in the school where I worked. I know my cargo pants and unstyled hair were a shock to the kids, who expected all Americans to look like the actors on Beverly Hills 90210, and my poor handwriting in cursive in the Russian alphabet was anathema to my co-workers. I was actually forbidden from writing in the grade book and had to go fetch a Russian teacher when it was time to enter my grades.

The antisemitism the author documents here is shocking, but it wasn't surprising to me. I am not Jewish, but during my year in Russia I weirdly experienced a tiny taste of it. I'm not sure if it was my first name or what, but one older Russian man of my acquaintance would often allude to what he was sure was the Jewishness I was trying to conceal, and it was clear he had a problem with this. It was ugly and eye-opening, a pernicious national pattern.
Profile Image for Jan.
4,426 reviews46 followers
July 25, 2021
Laughed my sox off!
About half of this is so closely related to stories I've heard from Russian/Polish/East German co-workers that I just wanted to hunt them up and tell them to get this book, especially since her main phobia was that she'd sound too Russian. Talk about snarky humor. She also relates issues somewhat specific to having been born into a (nonpracticing) Jewish family who are clueless about Jewish practices (even Yiddish!) until moving to the US where the sponsors painstakingly informed them of all they'd been missing (rugelach!) as well as how to speak English clearly. She even uses humor to share some of the trials of infertility and the horror of having cancer treatments at the same time as her husband. Throughout she relates the guilt inducing behaviors of her Russian mother (mine was Polish, same awful) and later her efforts to deal with her own daughter as a teenager while being determined NOT to emulate her mother. There's lots more but I'm getting too wordy as it is, so I'll just repeat--laughed my sox off!
Voice actress Laurel Lefkow is superb at underplaying for maximum effect.
I requested and received a free temporary audio copy from Bookouture Audio/Thread Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
Profile Image for litwithraffa.
50 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2021
Disclaimer: I heard this audiobook as Net Galley ARC.

So, that was a really fun book to listen to.

I struggle a little bit with audiobooks, if the narrator isn't right, if the writing isn't fluid (too poetic, I mean), I lose my focus quite easily and then have to skip back. But this one was just right on point: the narrator has a voice that does not get tiring, she narrates the book at a great pace, great pronunciation (at least for the english, I know nothing about the russian parts), the tone was just right.

The writing, from what I heard (ha!) is quite simple, but pretty nevertheless. It's fun, it's cozy, it's a book I could listen while working, taking a walk or just laying in my bed with my eyes closed. Took me a couple weeks to listen to it all, but it was always really easy to pick up from where I had left it.

The story itself is very inspiring too. I was expecting something more dramatic (tragic, even), but it's just a fun book. And there's nothing wrong with a fun memoir. We actually need more of these. It was also very interesting to leart more about a jewish ex-ussr person.

Highly recommend, liked it a lot, wish the best for this book. Thank you, Net Galley and the editor.
Profile Image for Violet Laflamme.
163 reviews4 followers
July 7, 2021
What I liked

I thought this was a great look into the life of immigrants from the former USSR to the US in decades gone by. The author illustrates a lot of aspects of her life for us, and is always careful to ground you with a sense of what time period she's discussing. The essays also weren't dull, they were definitely written with some style.

What I didn't like

The sense of humour of the author just didn't match up with mine. There were passages I read out loud to my boyfriend and he thought they were hilarious, so I am willing to accept this might just be a matter of personal preference. However, there were some parts that were clearly *supposed* to be funny that I just didn't find myself laughing at.

Overall

This wasn't a difficult read, and is certainly worth it for someone interested in the subject matter. However, if you're looking for a laugh, maybe download a sample first to see if the style of humour is for you.
Profile Image for Kat Stephens.
9 reviews
November 7, 2021
A laugh out loud account of a lifetime’s journey of assimilation to Amerikan culture, and the equally hard journey to accept the culture not quite left behind. Often humour is the thing that gets us through the worst of times and clearly Margarita’s sharp wit and keenly observant eye have been shaped by her experiences. From the hardships of growing up in Soviet-era Russia, all while facing antisemitism on a daily basis, to her long journey to reach the USA, where freedom smelled like Levi’s and Coca Cola, and her assimilation into this new culture. I read the essays quickly, laughed out loud on countless occasions, and got a real sense of Margarita’s life as a Soviet citizen and émigré. Beneath Margarita’s light and easy writing style you can feel the weight, the struggles she would have had to endure in order to write these essays. And the work she’s done in order to be able to reflect and analyse and convey her journey with humour. A fantastic read and a great gift idea!
891 reviews2 followers
July 22, 2021
I really enjoyed this memoir. The author grew up in the Soviet Union and left as a young adult with her family. As a Russian Jew, she did not have to escape or defect, as seen in the movies. She and her family left the USSR as refugees. Her insight into life in the USSR was fascinating. I enjoyed her stories and sense of humor. She also provided insight into the Russian stereotypes I was familiar with as an American growing up during the Cold War era. She also explained the immigrant experience in readable and entertaining essays.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Soviet Union, its people and culture. The Soviet era has ended; but autobiographies, such as this one, preserve the stories of its average citizens for future generations.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Steph.
274 reviews28 followers
June 15, 2021
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

I was a young kid when the USSR desolved. The only thing about it I recall from my childhood is having an outdated globe in elementary school because it still had the USSR on it. This memoir is written as a collection of essays and was really illuminating to me. I had no idea Levi's were so popular with the Soviets. This was a great glimpse into a regular working family in Moscow and their immigration to the US. The only negative are the numerous footnotes. They are distracting and maybe about 1/3 of them are actually necessary.

Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone that enjoys memoirs and anyone interested in the Soviet experience.
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