Stalina, by Emily Rubin, Debut not new…

Stalina

Stalina

By Emily Rubin

Mariner Books, 2011

208 pages

Stalina moves from Russia to Hartford, Connecticut in 1991, when she is in her early 50s, leaving her aging mother behind. She lives with a Russian friend, Amalia, and although she worked as a scientist at home, finds her niche working as a housekeeper at the Liberty Motel, a short-stay motel, where she becomes inspired to decorate rooms by themes—the Roller Coaster Fun Park Room or the Caribbean Sunset Room. After living in the U.S. for two years she encounters an old Russian friend, Nadia, who she has not seen since childhood, who leads her to discover a secret about her parents, and in particular her father, who died in a labor camp when she was growing up.

This is a quirky novel, which captures a unique immigrant story—a single woman moving to this country on her own, with no family to make a new home with. The book also recounts moments from her life growing up Jewish in Leningrad with parents who named her Stalina as a joke. (At a time when Stalin was sending Jews to Siberia her parents gave her her name with the hope, “he would never harm his namesake.”) Rubin is a funny and poetic writer who creates an idiosyncratic character in Stalina. This book is character driven and is highly imaginative and engaging. Stalina is a warm and sympathetic character to spend time with. And the book comes to a touching end.

Rubin lives in New York and is the host of the Dirty Laundry reading series, where she curates readings in New York City laundromats.

I was given a copy of this book by the author.

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Stalina, by Emily Rubin, Debut not new…

  1. Thanks, Kate. I look forward to your blog on Mondays and have had great reading experiences based upon your recommendations!!

  2. Thanks, Janis! Glad you have enjoyed some of the books I write about.

  3. louise crawford

    This one does sound especially interesting. Thanks for reviewing.

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