Russian Tattoo

Russian Tattoo

A Memoir

Book - 2015
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"An exquisite portrait of mothers and daughters that reaches from Cold War Russia to modern-day New Jersey, from the author of A Mountain of Crumbs--the memoir that 'leaves you wanting more' (The Daily Telegraph, UK). In A Mountain of Crumbs Elena Gorokhova describes coming of age behind the Iron Curtain and leaving her mother and her Motherland for a new life in the United States. Now, in Russian Tattoo, Elena learns that the journey of an immigrant is filled with everyday mistakes, small humiliations, and a loss of dignity. Cultural disorientation comes in the form of not knowing how to eat a hamburger, buy a pair of shoes, or catch a bus. But through perseverance and resilience, Elena gradually adapts to her new country. With the simultaneous birth of her daughter and the arrival of her Soviet mother, who comes to the US to help care for her granddaughter and stays for twenty-four years, it becomes the story of a unique balancing act and a family struggle. Russian Tattoo is a poignant memoir of three generations of strong women with very different cultural values, all living under the same roof and battling for control. Themes of separation and loss, grief and struggle, and power and powerlessness run throughout this story of growing understanding and, finally, redemption. 'Gorokhova writes about her life with a novelist's gift,' says The New York Times, and her latest offering is filled with empathy, insight, and humor"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2015
ISBN: 9781451689822
Branch Call Number: B GOROKHOVA R
Characteristics: pages cm


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ChristchurchLib Apr 18, 2016

Elena Gorokhova's emigration from Russia in 1980 was enabled by marriage to an American who turned out to be unfamiliar with the concept of fidelity. From this dismal beginning Elena found ways to make her own way, marrying again and having a child (who became a rebellious teenager), bringing her old-style Stalinist mother to the U.S., and gradually adjusting to the wide cultural gaps. Her richly sensory reflections on immigration into a culture of immigrants offer a quietly compelling memoir that will linger in the reader's mind.

Feb 22, 2016

Gorokhova's follow-up book to a A Mountain of Crumbs opens when her first American husband, Robert, sends her to New Jersey from Texas to live with his mother. There she meets her soon-to-be second American husband, Andy. When her daughter Sasha is born, Elena's mother comes to Nutley to care for the baby and stays 24 years until her death. During that time, the author completes her doctorate, raises a more American girl than she expected (despite all the Russian language and culture lessons), and battles her mother's very vocal, Russian expectations for daughters. This is a classic immigrant memoir written in a Russian flavor. The most noticeable difference between the two books is language and pacing. As Elena becomes more fluent in English, her writing becomes less philosophically ponderous and more about moving the narrative along.

Feb 05, 2016

Although this is a sequel to Ms. Gorokhova’s wonderful memoir “A Mountain of Crumbs”, which dealt with the author’s life growing up in Soviet Leningrad, “Russian Tattoo” is a self-contained book about the author’s experience as an immigrant to America. People who start with this book will appreciate the flashbacks to Ms. Gorkhova’s Soviet past; those who have already read “A Mountain of Crumbs” may find that there is a tad too much repetition of what has gone before.
That said, it is a funny, touching, beautifully written account of what the immigrant experience was for one brilliant Russian, who came by herself, but later brought her mom and her elder sister to America. She brings out how difficult the process is for those who have been brought up under Communism, and how for her and others like her, they will always to some degree be strangers in their new country, even as they increasingly become strangers to their old one.
It is a pity that there were no illustrations in this book. In fact, to see pictures of Ms. Gorkhova’s post-emigration life, one has to go to the last photographs in her previous memoir, “A Mountain of Crumbs”.


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