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White on Black

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  930 ratings  ·  96 reviews
This is an extraordinary personal testament, the story of one boy’s triumph in the face of impossible obstacles. Born with cerebral palsy in Moscow, Ruben Gallego was hidden away in Soviet state institutions by his maternal grandfather, the secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party in the 1960s. His was a boyhood spent in orphanages, hospitals, and old-age homes, a ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published January 8th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  930 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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Aug 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: booker, russian
Falls squarely into the "misery lit" niche.
I do admire the author's courage & empathise with his misfortunes (disclosure: I'm disabled myself), but as a piece of writing, the book is calculated and manipulative. The sentences have to be short & descriptive to work like punches in the gut. It's easy to assault the reader with "the truth of life" in that way, never allowing him to come to his senses.

The ultimate dirty trick is writing "I'm retarded" when the reader's fully aware that
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating account of institutional life in Russia, narrated by a young, non ambulatory boy with cerebral palsy. Abandoned by his family, he spent his childhood in various government institutional homes, with rules and hierarchies in a world of their own. This is a tragedy but with humor and hope, and an amazing story of survival and humanity. A world where black is life and white is hopelessness.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I admire the author for having typed this memoir with the index finger of his left hand. The content, is, of course, very moving and powerful. I am a little confused as to the style of the book. The narrative jumps around a lot from past to present, which does not make it difficult to understand, it only leaves the reader wanting more details. Many life-changing issues and events are discussed by using just a few choice words and phrases. Perhaps that is the author's style, and he doesn't want ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is truly a stunning tale. Abandoned with cerebral palsy, and left to grow up in children homes scattered across Russia, Ruben Gallego's tale has been one of the most enduring stories I have ever read. This personal statement will really touch you, and show you just how truly blessed some people are, and some are not. The only complaint that I have to offer, is that the biography itself did not really have a developing storyline showing Ruben's growth into manhood and his travels to America ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This slim memoir packs a whollop. Born the granndson of a Spanish Communist leader, he spent his childhood as an orpahn being shuttled between a variety of children's and old age homes in Russia.. His mother, a student,thought that he had died. How Ruben survived such a childhood of cruelty and neglect and deprivation is incredible. Born with cerebral palsy, he crawls his way outside and to the bathroom. He can only use a few fingers of one hand, yet he grows up, marries, has children and ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Poignant book! I wonder of he could ever get over the traumas of his childhood or his current disabilities....great honesty and tenderness about his friendships with the other boys in the home. Interesting russian " compassion" vs american and the cultural prejudices too.
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Terrifying, brutal and brilliant document of survival. One of the most visceral testaments to the power of maintaining one's dignity and humanity in the face of hell all done without a drop of sentimentality.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: society, biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ina Reeve
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book!
Set in Soviet Union and written by Ruben Gonzalez Gallego., it is a memoire of his childhood in Soviet orphanage, he is separated from his mother, who was forced to leave him after she was told her child was invalid.
Jan 07, 2010 rated it liked it
I think I was confused when I bought this book.
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to solo by: Oldman
Shelves: non-fic
prompted by The Gray House.

works best if viewed not as a tearjerker, but as a reminder that, yes, there's that too... quite readable while at it.
Prez Lipiec
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I have to point the most moving book I have ever read, this is the one.
True story of orphan disabled child in Russia, seventies. The book will ask you most important questions and does not serve you easy answers.
And still, besides described horrors, it will leave you with hope.

Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing
Jan 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What made me pick up this book was the fact that the author, because he was born with cerebral palsy, types this memoir with the index finger of his left hand. My only complaint is that the story can be confusing because it jumps around from chapter to chapter and never quite gives the complete story of his childhood or adult life. I would have liked to know the why's behind his abandonment and placement in a children's home, as well as the events leading up to his marriages and births of his ...more
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If the book was written originally in Russian by a Spanish man that grew up in Russia, why is the translation into Spanish done thinking only of a Spain audience? It is very distracting to find expression after expression, even in quotation marks, that are meaningless to a reader who is not from Spain. If the book had been written originally in Spanish, by a Spaniard, that is completely a different thing.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give this book 4.5 stars. It was better than most of the books I gave 4 stars to, but not quite a 5 star book, which I reserve for books that change my life. This is a wonderfully sweet memoir and gives those of us that whine when we live such privileged lives a kick in the pants. It is well, well worth reading!

Okay, I thought about it and I'm back to give it 5 stars after all. Any book that makes me think this much must be a 5 star book!
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly autobiographical book by Ruben Gonzalez Gallego. He tells a story of a disabled boy who spends his boyhood in Russian orphanages, hospitals, and old-age homes. It shows how those institutions were causing a life of emotional deprivation and loss of human dignity. But there is no bitterness - only an unfailing regard for the truth.
Kirsty Watts
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Parts of this book made me so saddened that I had to stop reading for a while to compose myself. Such an inspiring author. I was fascinated by the over all optimistic point of view of the author, knowing he'd suffered such adversity. He has an ability to enable the reader to be reminded of the significance and beauty of simple things that other people may take for granted. Brilliant book to get a perspective of what is important in life. Very moving.
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Ruben Gallego has cerebral palsy and grew up in Soviet-run institutions. He typed his beautifully written memoir using one finger. Broken into shorter pieces, White on Black shows how magic can still exist in a child’s life even in the direst of circumstances.

Gallego evokes sympathy without being trite or needing to be pitied. He is strong, and has overcome many odds to be where and who he is today. This is a powerful memoir of triumph through small things.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A straightforward and often harrowing account of Gallego's life in Soviet institutions, told with bare-faced candour . The sketches are pure reflection of his daily life and I didn't feel, as some reviewers' stated, that he went for the sympathy/sucker punches. He and his fellow "inmates" were rarely shown compassion or sympathy. Truly stirring and disturbing. Would recommend .
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
A personal story of a boy growing up in Moscow with cerebal palsy. He spends his childhood in orphanages, hospitals and homes for the elderly after being hidden away in Soviet state insitutions by his materal grandfather. A touching read that proves people can still triumph despite adversity.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Ruben Gallego, born with cerebral palsy in 1968, was hidden away in Soviet state orphanages and other institutions. Gallego describes in heart-wrenching detail the abuse that he and other children endured. This memoir is both harrowing and inspiring. Winner of the 2003 Russian Booker Prize.
Eygló Möller
Nov 02, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Don't get me wrong... it is great that he was able to overcome all those opsticles.
But it is just the way the book was written, that I couldn't wait till I finished it!
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story about what the life really is. No more comments.
Karina Chitman
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It is one of the saddest books I've read. I could only compare it with the books about Holocaust. It makes your intestines churn realizing how cruel and inhuman people can be...
Olga Khramtsova
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the strongest, touching book I have ever read. Sad but true.,
Baina Bogaeva
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book made me believe how could the Person be Strong.
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Ruben Gonzalez Gallego

Рубен Давид Гонсалес Гальего (исп.Rubén David González Gallego, род. 20 сентября 1968, Москва, СССР)— писатель и журналист. В настоящее время живёт в США.
Широко известен как автор автобиографического произведения «Белое на чёрном», удостоенного в 2003 году литературной премии «Букер— Открытая Россия» за лучший роман на русском языке.

Wikipedia: Рубен Гальего

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“أنا بطل .. من السهل أن تكون بطلاً .. إذا لم يكن لديك يدان ولا رجلان -أنت بطل أو ميت .. إذا لم يكن لك والدان اعتمد على يديك ورجليك وكن بطلا.. إذا لم يكن لديك يدان ولا رحلان وأنت بالإضافة الى ذلك تحايلت وظهرت الى الدنيا يتيماً - هذا كل شئ أنت محكوم عليك أن تكون بطلاً حتى نهاية أيامك أو تموت .. أنا بطل .. ببساطة لا يوجد لي مخرج آخر .” 2 likes
“Вечером пацаны долго спорили. Никак не могли понять, почему тот парень со сломанной ногой не дрался, ведь у него еще оставались две целые руки, здоровая нога, да и нож в кармане. Странный он, и друг у него странный.” 1 likes
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