Memoir/autobiography of Soviet citizen

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Memoir/autobiography of Soviet citizen

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apr 22, 2016, 11:25 am

I'd like to read something from the perspective of a citizen who lived in the Soviet Union in the 80s and 90s. Any ideas?

Thank you!

Redigerat: apr 23, 2016, 3:12 pm

Hi, I read and liked A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova. She also wrote a sequel that I haven't read, The Russian Tattoo (the touchstone goes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is not the same book).

ETA: A Mountain of Crumbs takes place in the 1960s, so it may not be what you are looking for.

apr 24, 2016, 4:22 am

Thank you! I will read it and maybe it will lead me to something more recent.

apr 24, 2016, 4:28 am

Russian Tattoo No 'the' in the title.

Redigerat: maj 5, 2016, 4:27 pm

I stand corrected regarding the lack of a "the" in Russian Tattoo.

Another book you might like is Stalin's daughter : the extraordinary and tumultuous life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan (I had mixed feelings about it). Svetlana defected to the U.S. in the 1960s, but returned to the Soviet Union from 1984-86.

And yet another book about Soviet culture you may like is Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen. According to the contents notes in my library's catalog: "With startling beauty and sardonic wit, Anya von Bremzen tells an intimate yet epic story of life in that vanished empire known as the USSR -- a place where every edible morsel was packed with emotional and political meaning." Each chapter covers a different decade, including the 1980s and 1990s.

Redigerat: aug 27, 2016, 3:27 pm

Another suggestion: Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets: An Oral History by Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. I haven't read it yet, but the book flap says, "Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it's like to live in the new Russia left in its wake...Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians."

ETA: ending quotation mark and touchstone.

Redigerat: aug 8, 2016, 6:11 pm

Not a narrative account, but a fascinating collection of street notices--hand-made signs that Soviet Russians posted in public places--is Notes from Russia, though some are from before the 80s I think. Very good-looking book as well, so it is.

(edit: Sorry, bridget-molly, read OP rather than thread title so my suggestion irrelevant. Leaving it here though as it's an interesting book.)

Redigerat: aug 8, 2016, 9:52 pm

I've heard nothing but praise for Limonov's memoirs (fictional and otherwise): It's Me, Eddie; Memoir of a Russian Punk; A Young Scoundrel (in partial translation by John Dolan published in the University of Otago's Deep South:

Of course, Limonov wrote as an emigré (as of 1974 at the age of 29, having grown up in Kharkov). What's more, he's not exactly a lovable character; he's been called a Russian Céline, apparently for many good reasons. So they may put some people off.

A shame I haven't gotten around to reading them myself.

aug 9, 2016, 10:36 am

You can also read an English translation of his French biography: Limonov

aug 9, 2016, 7:20 pm

I second that suggestion. For some reason "It's Me, Eddie" was published in German under the title "Fuck Off, America" - well before it got translated into English.

Limonov's National Bolshevik Party of the 90s was pure punk - agitprop at its finest.

I also recommend Emmanuel Carrère's biography of Limonov. (Limonov, Éditions P.O.L./Éditions Gallimard, 2011)

dec 7, 2016, 12:31 am

Highly recommend Limonov. He is an interesting character and the book covers so much of Soviet history and territory during that time that it is an excellent perspective for the time frame you are looking for. I learned a lot about Russian culture and have a much different perspective on Putin after reading this book.