A Mountain of Crumbs: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain Paperback – 19 Aug 2010
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"This is a rich experience - a personal journey paralleled by huge national changes and ending in a deeply satisfying portrait of peace in America" (Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angela's Ashes)
"The story of a young person of sparkling intelligence, full of curiosity about the world, struggling to grow and blossom under a duplicitous, censorious, and unremittingly mean-minded social system. An enthralling read" (J.M. Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature)
"In the spirit of Dostoyevsky, it is an endlessly Russian quest for self-redemption . . . I advise you to read the book. It will give you pleasure" (Sergei Khruschchev, son of former Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev)
"A Mountain of Crumbs is an exquisitely wrought, tender memoir of growing up in the Soviet Union . . . Gorokhova writes about her life with a novelist's gift for threading motives around the heart of a story, following it's plot with a light touch and unwavering honesty." (The New York Times)
"Elena Gorokhova has written the Russian equivalent of Angela's Ashes, an intimate story of growing up into young womanhood told with equal grace and humor" (Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate)
A mesmerising memoir of a childhood in Soviet RussiaSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The author is to be congratulated for writing a book set in this era which is neither anti-capitalist nor anti-communist: it reads as an honest report of how life was, and about her perceptions of the West, without making any moral judgements about the relative merits of each system.
This book has made me want to read Solzhenitsyn, Bulgakov and the other "subversive" Russian writers she mentions (and to visit Russia!).
It's interesting to compare the time it takes for this Russian woman to start questioning the tenets of communist orthodoxy and how long it seemed to take the Chinese. In "Wild Swans" the author seems to have swallowed the message whole until well past adolescence, whereas here there is a healthy dose of doubt from an early age.
A useful book, I think, which offsets the extraordinary ignorance of British reviewers as to the mind set of the Russian people.
The early chapters dealing with the very early childhood of the author and the family holidays in a dacha on the Gulf of Finland are, perhaps, the least successful. The writing is a little confused and ‘bumpy’ but as the book progresses so the style becomes much more accomplished and the story more interesting. The book contains a lot about the thoughts and anxieties of a little girl, then teenager and young woman growing up. We read of her first ‘crushes’ and experiences with boys, stories that might apply to young girls anywhere. It is not simply an expose of life in the Soviet Union.
The book puts over the concept of ‘vranyo’ where the speaker makes a required statement that she knows not to be true, and the listener also knows the statement not to be true, but it is a required by the state and these routine observances have to be made in all situations and walks of life if trouble is to be avoided. The lack of goods, things perpetually not working properly, overweening bureaucracy, the mystery of what goes on outside the USSR, all these everyday elements occur naturally in the story so that it has a very ‘light-touch’ and is never a polemic. There is also much about Russian food.
As the author is an English language student (and guide) we have interesting comments on the differences in ‘feel’ or ‘mood’ between the Russian and English languages, English surprisingly appearing by far the most excitable in the view of the author.
This is a good book, quite lyrical at times, and interesting on a number of levels. One wonders what a cultured Russian woman made of life in Texas.
Gorokova produces what seems to be a honest picture of her life behind the iron curtain, her family and the after-effects of living under Stalin. Things that seem far away now are brought closer by her intimate descriptions - Like her father losing his teeth because of starvation, and her Soviet mother's stranglehold on her daughters.
I found I instantly warmed to the narrating voice in this book. Gorokova writes in a sensitive, feminine, descriptive way which feels natural and honest. At times this book is dry and humorous, other times melancholy, but it is always interesting and enlighteing. I have read a lot about the Soviet Union and Russia, but never come across this kind of perspective - Female, and written post-emigration to the United States, with all the hinsight and wisdom that brings.
I recommend this book to anybody with a heart and an interest in the Russian people and the situation they were forced to accept in post WW2 Russia under Stalin. We are very lucky to have been born in the west!
A rare glimpse into a tough and deprived world we hardly knew about but written with humour.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A really interesting insight into life behind the Iron Curtain, or rather in Russia. Well worth reading, especially for those who lived "on the other side" of the wall.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a fascinating insight into growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1960s as a spirited girl with her own opinions and her struggle for satisfaction in life. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Pat Zee
Not sure at first but the more I read the better it got. Good descriptions of St. Petersburg. Worth reading.Published on 22 Jun. 2014 by E A UPSON
Interesting study of Soviet life after the 2nd World War
Liked because of Russian family connections but is not really my favourite period
Anyone with Russian... Read more
A very well written account of life for an educated young woman in 20th century Russia. For all her privileged family connections, life was hard and repressive and one can only... Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2013 by Easy riser
For the most part I enjoyed this. Although it becomes evident she escapes from Russia from the photos, the book concentrates purely on events in Russia. Read morePublished on 30 Sept. 2012 by GermanGeoff
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