Mas­ter­ing the Art of Sovi­et Cook­ing: A Mem­oir of Food and Longing

  • From the Publisher
May 22, 2014

Anya recounts three Sovi­et-Jew­ish gen­er­a­tions and their com­plex rela­tion­ship with total­i­tar­i­an pow­er and Jew­ish iden­ti­ty. We meet her great-grand­moth­er Maria who ran a Jew­ish home can­teen out of her kitchen and lost her baby in the 1905 pogrom. We meet Anya’s grand­fa­ther Naum, a high-rank­ing intel­li­gence offi­cer under Stal­in who resigned his job fear­ing anti-Semit­ic repres­sions, and her grand­moth­er Liza who made the dan­ger­ous trek to block­ad­ed Leningrad to find Naum dur­ing World War II. We also meet Anya’s moth­er, Lar­isa, who coura­geous­ly fled the state she reviled leav­ing behind her entire life and family.

Anya’s inti­mate fam­i­ly nar­ra­tive unfolds against a larg­er his­tor­i­cal epic: Lenin’s iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics reduc­ing Jew­ish­ness to eth­nic­i­ty”; World War II hunger and sur­vival, Stal­in’s bloody purges, and Gor­bachev’s dis­as­trous anti-alco­hol poli­cies. And ulti­mate­ly, the col­lapse of the USSR.

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