Book Review: Comrade Koba by Robert Littell
4 Stars , Fiction , Historical Fiction , Latest Posts / September 9, 2020

It is unclear what role Koba plays in Stalin’s government, except that he is a very high, and admired advisor. Koba, like Stalin, also came from Georgia and, like Stalin, excuses the crimes which the regime commits as a path to a greater “worker’s paradise”. It is a very interesting exercise to explain such concepts to an audience, especially if they’re ten year olds. Koba, at points, seem to be trying to convince himself of the deeds he is a part of, instead of convincing Leon

Fun Facts Friday: Bel Kaufman
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / May 10, 2019

Bel Kaufman (10 May, 1911 – 25 July, 2014) was an American author and educator known for her novel Up the Down Staircase (1964). More Books by Bel Kaufman* Ms. Kaufman, born as Bella, in Berlin, Germany to Russian immigrants. The family returned to Russia where her father became a physician and her mother wrote books under the name Lala Kaufman. The famous Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem is Ms. Kaufman’s grandfather. In 1922 the Kaufman family emigrated to the United States, where her father practiced medicine in Newark, NJ. Because she couldn’t speak English, the 12 year old Bella was placed with first graders at the public school, however she credits the teacher who helped her learn English in elementary school for her love of English Literature. Putting a 12 year old with first grade students is a disgraceful and distasteful act which could have had a devastating lifetime effect (not a fact, just my take). Eventually Ms. Kaufman graduated from Hunter College, and got a Master’s degree in literature from Columbia University. Ms. Kaufman worked as a high school teach in New York City while writing part-time under the nom de plume “Bel” Kaufman. The author’s first novel, Up…

Book Review: Solovyov and Larionov by Eugene Vodolazkin
Latest Posts / May 1, 2019

About: Solovyov and Larionov by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Lisa C. Hayden) is a novel, translated from Russian, which is part military history, part academic satire.  This is the author’s first book, but his third translated into English. 368 pages Publisher: Oneworld Publications Language: English ISBN-10: 1786070359   My rating for Solovyov and Larionov – 2 Buy Solovyov and Larionov from Amazon.com* More Books by Eugene Vodolazkin* Thoughts: Most of the books I read which were translated from Russian were very good, some even excellent. Before requesting Solovyov and Larionov by Eugene Vodolazkin (translated by Lisa C. Hayden) I looked up the synopsis which seemed to be right up my alley. The book checked many of the things which I enjoy: military history, a detective story, and academic satire to boot. For me, however, none of these parts came together.  I also like books which take their time to tell a good story, whether it’s a sweeping, grand arc or intimately exploring characters – better yet is a combination of both. This book, however, didn’t work for me. It was difficult to keep track of the many characters which appear and disappear without any rhyme or reason. The symbolism, which…

Book Review: Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina
5 Stars , Fiction , Latest Posts / March 27, 2019

Zuleikha by Guzel  Yakhina (translated by Lisa Hayden) is a novel about a Tartar widow who has been exiled to Siberia in the 1930s.  This book was the winner of the Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award and the Russia Big Book literary prize, as well as being short listed for the Russian Booker Prize.

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