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A Mountain of Crumbs

A Mountain of Crumbs is the moving story of a young Soviet girl's discovery of the hidden truths of adulthood and her country's profound political deception. Elena, born with a desire to explore the world beyond her borders, finds her passion in the complexity of the English language -- but in the Soviet Union of the 1960s, such a passion verges on the subversive. Elena's home is no longer the majestic Russia of literature or the tsars. Instead, it is a nation humiliated by its first faltering steps after World War II, putting up appearances for the sake of its regime and fighting to retain its pride. In this deeply affecting memoir, Elena re-creates the world that both oppressed and inspired her. She recounts stories passed down to her about the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution and probes the daily deprivations and small joys of her family's bunkerlike existence. Through Elena's captivating voice, we learn not only the personal story of Russia in the second half of the twentieth century, but also the story of one rebellious citizen whose love of a foreign language finally transports her to a new world.
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A mesmerising memoir of a childhood in Soviet Russia

About the Author

Elena Gorokhova grew up in St Petersburg, Russia, although for most of her life it was known as Leningrad. At the age of twenty-four she married an American and came to the United States with one twenty-kilogram suitcase to start a new life. Now Elena is a writer and lives in New Jersey.


Gorokhova presents an evocative memoir of her childhood in St. Petersburg during the Cold War and her path to immigration to the United States. Weaving together threads from the lives of her parents, relatives, and classmates, as well as her own coming-of-age experiences, Gorokhova ably depicts the hardships of life in the waning years of the restrictive Soviet regime. Despite these struggles and the sorrow of the early death of her father, Gorokhova's tale is balanced by jewel-like moments of beauty, optimism, and appreciation of Russia's cultural richness. The author succeeds also in perceptively illustrating the mindset of collectivism that permeated Soviet society, a philosophy that will likely be wholly alien-yet thought-provoking-to many American readers. Written with a lyrical, poetic touch, the narrative occasionally veers too far into a mundane recitation of daily events, but memoir fans will find inspiration in Gorokhova's ability to find hope and opportunity amid repression. VERDICT Best suited to autobiography readers interested in Soviet history, the Cold War, immigration experiences, or female coming-of-age memoirs.-Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"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

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