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Whether set in Maxim D. Shrayer’s native Russia or in North America and Western Europe, the eight stories in this collection explore emotionally intricate relationships that cross traditional boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and culture. Tracing the lives, obsessions, and aspirations of Jewish-Russian immigrants, these poignant, humorous, and tender stories create an expansive portrait of individuals struggling to come to terms with ghosts of their European pasts while simultaneously seeking to build new lives in their American present.
The lasting charm of Kaufman’s stories lies in a delightful mix of personal incidents and observations set against an anchoring backdrop of cultural tradition. His new collection is filled with tales from his parents’ homeland in the Ukraine, his own childhood reminiscences, and his adult travels. We watch the young author forced alongside "every Jewish boy on the block" to emulate Yehudi Menuhin on a ten-dollar violin with a moldy bow until the boy is spared by an innate lack of talent and his father’s judgment of his concert: "Enough is enough is more than enough." Kaufman is carefully attuned to the awkwardness of adulthood as well as to that of early adolescence. In "Interlude in Bangkok," his narrator scours the city for a synagogue while pursued by a prostitute. Later he and a friend encounter Greta Garbo in a museum café and are too frightened to approach her. "I am not she," intones the mysterious movie star, and in his own way, Kaufman says that of himself in these stories through an autobiograp
A memoir of coming of age and struggling to leave the USSR. Shrayer chronicles the triumphs and humiliations of a Soviet childhood and expresses the dreams and fears of a Jewish family that never gave up its hopes for a better life. Narrated in the tradition of Tolstoy’s confessional trilogy and Nabokov’s autobiography, this is a searing account of the KGB’s persecution of refuseniks, a poet’s rebellion against totalitarian culture, and Soviet fantasies of the West during the Cold War.
In March 2007, Leah Fishbane, a promising young graduate student in the prime of her life, was struck down suddenly with a undiagnosed brain tumor. In this deeply evocative memoir, written during the dark time of the first year following Leah’s death, her husband Eitan gives voice to the overwhelming power of grief and to the deep love that underlies such pain. He tells the story of his efforts to be a good father to his grieving four–year–old child and of his discovery of himself as a parent in ways he had not known before. Along this path, Fishbane asks fundamental questions about the meaning of death and life, about the place of God and faith in the experience of tragedy, reflecting on what it means to live with loss. The result is a poetic testament that will resonate with countless mourners and their loved ones. In giving honest expression to emotions that are at once particular and universal, Shadows in Winter offers a luminous window of comfort and hope to those battling the devastation of loss.
A memoir of coming of age and struggling to leave the USSR. Shrayer chronicles the triumphs and humiliations of a Soviet childhood and expresses the dreams and fears of a Jewish family that never gave up its hopes for a better life.
In 1987 a young Jewish man, the central figure in this captivating book, leaves Moscow for good with his parents. They celebrate their freedom in opulent Vienna and spend two months in Rome and the coastal resort of Ladispoli. While waiting in Europe for a U.S. refugee visa, the book’s twenty-year-old poet quenches his thirst for sexual and cultural discovery. Through his colorful Austrian and Italian misadventures, he experiences the shock, thrill, and anonymity of encountering Western democracies, running into European roadblocks while shedding Soviet social taboos. As he anticipates entering a new life in America, he movingly describes the baggage that exiles bring with them, from the inescapable family traps and ties to the sweet cargo of memory. An emigration story, Waiting for America explores the rapid expansion of identity at the cusp of a new, American life. Told in a revelatory first-person narrative, Waiting for America is also a vibrant love story in which the romantic main character is torn between Russian and Western women. Filled with poignant humor and reinforced by hope and idealism, the author’s confessional voice carries the reader in the same way one is carried through literary memoirs like Tolstoy’s Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, or Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. Babel, Sebald, and Singer—all transcultural masters of identity writing—are the coordinates that help to locate Waiting for America on the greater map of literature.
In his captivating new book, based on new evidence and a series of interviews, author and scholar Maxim D. Shrayer offers a richly journalistic portrait of Russia's dwindling yet still vibrant and influential Jewish community. This is simultaneously an in-depth exploration of the texture of Jewish life in Putin's Russia and an emigre's moving elegy for Russia's Jews, which forty years ago constituted one of the world's largest Jewish populations and which presently numbers only about 180,000. Why do Jews continue to live in Russia after the antisemitism and persecution they had endured there? What are the prospects of Jewish life in Russia? What awaits the children born to Jews who have not left? "With or Without You" asks and seeks to answer some of the central questions of modern Jewish history and culture.

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