By Lev Golinkin
A compelling tale of 2 intertwined trips: a Jewish refugee relatives fleeing persecution and a tender guy trying to reclaim a shattered previous. within the twilight of the chilly conflict (the past due 1980s), nine-year outdated Lev Golinkin and his relations go the Soviet border with merely ten suitcases, $600, and the imprecise promise of aid waiting for in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American grownup, units out to retrace his family's lengthy trek, find the strangers who fought for his freedom, and within the procedure, achieve a destiny via realizing his past.
Lev Golinkin's memoir is the bright, darkly comedian, and poignant tale of a tender boy within the complicated and infrequently chilling ultimate decade of the Soviet Union. it is also the tale of Lev Golinkin, the yankee guy who ultimately confronts his buried prior via returning to Austria and jap Europe to trace down the strangers who made his break out attainable . . . and say thanks. Written with biting, acerbic wit and emotional honesty within the vein of Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Bezmozgis, Golinkin's look for own id set opposed to the relentless currents of background is greater than a memoir—it's a portrait of a misplaced period. this can be a exciting story of break out and survival, a deeply own examine the lifetime of a Jewish baby stuck within the final gasp of the Soviet Union, and a provocative research into the ability of hatred and the quest for belonging. Lev Golinkin achieves an awesome feat—and it marks the debut of a fiercely clever, defiant, and unforgettable new voice.
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Additional resources for A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir
George Santayana THIS AIN’T ELLIS ISLAND manhattan, N. Y. , June 1990 the 3 girls from HIAS have been having fun with the air-conditioning at JFK’s overseas arrivals corridor, quietly awaiting the afternoon’s instances to land. the ladies spoke Russian. Like such a lot HIAS greeters, they themselves have been contemporary novices to the States. HIAS well-known that the simplest individual to narrate to a refugee was once an ex-refugee; hiring Russian audio system additionally circumvented the language barrier. the 1st case on June 19, 1990, used to be the Golinkin family members, dossier #90-2212, arriving on flight TW749. An hour later, a kinfolk from Naples may land, by means of extra from Rome. For the 4 households, June 19 could turn into a milestone, a distinct vacation to rejoice down the line. For HIAS, it was once simply one other day within the challenge. Welcome the stranger. safeguard the refugee. The Hebrew Immigrant reduction Society has stood at America’s doorstep for the reason that 1881, earlier than Ellis Island opened its gates or woman Liberty first gazed over long island Harbor. “We used to attend in harbors; now we wait in airports,” Valery Bazarov, one of many administrators at HIAS, instructed me. “Little else has changed … Refugees are refugees. ” I don’t be mindful seeing the Statue of Liberty or the famed long island skyscrapers; I take into accout badges, clipboards, and worry. Passing via customs was once easy, seeing that we carried little actual luggage, yet immigration was once one other tale. INS staff drilled us to ensure that we certified for political refugee prestige, after which despatched us to quarantine. in fact, those have been formalities: HIAS do not need flown us out of Austria with no insurance of asylum from Washington. yet status in line whereas strangers in uniforms determined your destiny used to be too just like the tamozhnya. Inspectors in lab coats rotated round us, consulting chest X-rays and pathogen studies played via American physicians on the U. S. embassy in Vienna. Head down, don’t allure recognition, steer clear of eye touch. outdated conduct I didn’t have in mind studying kicked in. simply as on the border, or with Kolya and his stash of unlawful cash whilst the druzhinniki swept throughout the backyard, the paralysis round humans in uniform had us to the USA. The quarantine room used to be so clinically sterile there has been not anything to target however the flooring, and all I observed have been the inspectors’ legs, white coats, and a white hand that appeared to movement by itself accord, lifting up my blouse to reveal my chest. After a moment’s pause, the hand dropped down, the legs moved on. We handed. The curly-haired younger guy weaved the yellow minivan via Queens, zigzagging towards LaGuardia Airport. As he drove he spoke, and as he spoke his correct arm mimicked the movement of the van, haphazardly jerking round the cabin. “I got here the following from Costa Rica, came many years ago—Fuck! ” He swerved to prevent a collision with one other taxi. “This ain’t Ellis Island, so don’t purchase into the outdated ‘stand there and glance helpless’ rubbish. Everyone’s an immigrant the following, and don’t enable not anyone inform you—Fuck! ” one other yellow blur screeched by way of.