Fall brings a new One Book One Community read for Marquette. A Mountain of Crumbs: a Memoir by Elena Gorokhova is the story of a young Soviet girl's discovery of the hidden truths of adulthood and her country's profound, brazen lies. The narrator recreates the world that both oppressed and inspired her. She recounts stories passed down to her about the horrors of Stalin's terror and the Great Patriotic War and probes the daily deprivations and small joys of her family's life in Leningrad. The author will visit Marquette on Oct. 25. More information on the OBOC events can be found at the library's website at pwpl.info. For more information about Russia and the Soviet Union, you can check out the following:
While reading Daphne Kalotay's Russian Winter for the Peter White Public Library's Book Group meeting this month, I remembered growing up during the Cold War and reading about life in the Soviet Union. Russian Winter is a novel that tells the story of Bolshoi ballerina Nina Revskaya as she becomes a member of Stalin's cultural elite before escaping to the West following a terrible betrayal. Decades later, she has decided to auction off her famed jewelry collection - including the rare set of amber that a Boston professor, Grigori Solodin, translator of the works of Revskaya's late poet-husband, believes may hold the key to a long-kept secret.
I just happened to watch "The American Experience" one night when The Great Famine was aired. When a devastating famine - 5,000,000 died - descended on Soviet Russia in 1921, the International Committee for Russian Relief (ICRR) was formed. The main participants were Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover's American Relief Administration, along with other bodies such as the American Friends Service Committee and the International Save the Children Union. The ICRR fed over 10,000,000 people. Americans responded with a massive two-year relief campaign, championed by a new Secretary of Commerce, "The Great Humanitarian" Herbert Hoover, an operation hailed for its efficiency, grit, and generosity.
In Molotov's Magic Lantern: travels in Russian history, British journalist Rachel Polonsky moves to Moscow and discovers that the former apartment of Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's most loyal henchman, is right above hers. Purely by coincidence, she is conducted into Molotov's apartment and discovers, among other objects, much of the former leader's library, some of it crumbling to dust, and an old magic lantern. Like faded images waiting for the light of this antique slide projector, Russian history and the Russian present reveal themselves in glimpses, like figures rising out of the dark, to Polonsky who uses the rotting pages of the books in Molotov's library as a guide, sometimes tracing lines that lead to places of exile, quest, or crime.
Taking the West by storm in 1957, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak was newly translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. One of the top four Russian poets of the 20th century, Pasternak wrote this, his only novel, at the end of his life.
- Caroline Jordan