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Books  >>  Biography

Elena Gorokhova

Russian Tattoo

Elena Gorokhova Russian Tattoo
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Main description:

An exquisite portrait of mothers and daughters that reaches from Cold War Russia to modern-day New Jersey, from the author of A Mountain of Crumbs—the memoir that “leaves you wanting more” (The Daily Telegraph, UK).

In A Mountain of Crumbs Elena Gorokhova describes coming of age behind the Iron Curtain and leaving her mother and her Motherland for a new life in the United States. Now, in Russian Tattoo, Elena learns that the journey of an immigrant is filled with everyday mistakes, small humiliations, and a loss of dignity. Cultural disorientation comes in the form of not knowing how to eat a hamburger, buy a pair of shoes, or catch a bus. But through perseverance and resilience, Elena gradually adapts to her new country. With the simultaneous birth of her daughter and the arrival of her Soviet mother, who comes to the US to help care for her granddaughter and stays for twenty-four years, it becomes the story of a unique balancing act and a family struggle.

Russian Tattoo is a poignant memoir of three generations of strong women with very different cultural values, all living under the same roof and battling for control. Themes of separation and loss, grief and struggle, and power and powerlessness run throughout this story of growing understanding and, finally, redemption. “Gorokhova writes about her life with a novelist’s gift,” says The New York Times, and her latest offering is filled with empathy, insight, and humor.

Review quote:

"Elena Gorokhova's memoir of her journey to America is delightful, hilarious and bracingly candid, a memorable odyssey of learning and striving as she escapes from the crumbling old world to a strange and mystifying new life."

Review quote:

"Russian Tattoo is the story of an immigrant, of leaving what you know and love.  It is the story of mothers and daughters--a story of love, forgiveness, and the desire to belong."

Review quote:

"This incredibly powerful book slips into your unconscious with charm and warmth and then grabs you by the gut. By the time you reach the end, you’ll have experienced the laughter, sorrow, joy, regret, love and hurt of a real life. And you’ll have a lump in your throat the size of Petersburg. With a magical command of language, Elena Gorokhova has painted images on my brain I won’t forget, as if I’d lived those moments myself. Because, somehow, I did."

Review quote:

“Engaging. … With wry, unswervingly honest observer’s eye, Gorokhova chronicles the increasing strangeness of her new country. … This work from a young immigrant’s point of view is both wondrous and stinging.”


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