Monday, July 25, 2011

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
Snippy, snarky, and wholly original, the voice of Rosalinda Achmetowna will stay with you long after you close this book. First published in German in 2010, this Booker-nominated bestseller explodes with personality, wit, and the wisdom of an older woman. Not that Rosalinda thought of herself as old.

Life in Russia was never easy, but Rosalinda thought her daughter, Sulfia, made life especially hard for herself. In the time-honored way of mothers everywhere, she hectored, berated, cursed, and finally resorted to direct intervention in her attempts to get her daughter gainfully wed. And it’s a good thing, too, since Sulfia had a child—a lovely child—who was soon to become central to the trio’s “escape to the West.”

It is rare to encounter a voice so fresh with biting insights and yet so laughingly tender at the same time. Always on the lookout for the main chance, our heroine finds myriad ways to game the system while she holds on, white-knuckled, to the gains she feels she deserves. It is hard not to feel regret when we close the book at last, for she is a woman with the carapace of a beetle, but an interior soft as pure gold. “People liked it when someone tugged at their heartstrings. I couldn’t understand why,” Rosalinda tells us. But I think Alina Bronsky understands it.

Classic Rosalinda:
”I noticed that by German standards, I was a fairly young woman. It was as if I had stopped aging. Of course, I hadn’t forgotten my real age. In Russia I knew I was young but that other women my age no longer were. Here I realized that the women my age really were young, even if they looked worse than me.

Even some women much older than me were still young. I stared at the first real old lady I saw—one with violet-colored hair—after she passed me on her bicycle. I took a picture of the second one. The third time I saw an older woman on a bike, it made me think. Then I bought myself a secondhand bicycle from a newspaper ad.”

Paperback, 304 pages. Published April 26th 2011 by Europa Editions, Incorporated (first published August 19th 2010)ISBN160945006X (ISBN13: 9781609450069)

This book counts towards the 2011 Europa Challenge. The Bowed Bookshelf: The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky