Russian Tattoo

Russian Tattoo

A Memoir

Book - 2015
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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.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2015.
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781451689822
Characteristics: 317 pages ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Gorokhova, Elena


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Jan 09, 2018

I’ve long been fascinated by Russia, and this book sheds so much light on the country and life there over recent decades. We in the West have no comparison to what life was and still is like there...truly eye-opening.

The author writes eloquently and compellingly, something even more notable as English is her second language. A needed voice today.

ChristchurchLib Apr 18, 2016

Elena Gorokhova's emigration from Russia in 1980 was enabled by marriage to an American who turned out to be unfamiliar with the concept of fidelity. From this dismal beginning Elena found ways to make her own way, marrying again and having a child (who became a rebellious teenager), bringing her old-style Stalinist mother to the U.S., and gradually adjusting to the wide cultural gaps. Her richly sensory reflections on immigration into a culture of immigrants offer a quietly compelling memoir that will linger in the reader's mind.

Feb 22, 2016

Gorokhova's follow-up book to a A Mountain of Crumbs opens when her first American husband, Robert, sends her to New Jersey from Texas to live with his mother. There she meets her soon-to-be second American husband, Andy. When her daughter Sasha is born, Elena's mother comes to Nutley to care for the baby and stays 24 years until her death. During that time, the author completes her doctorate, raises a more American girl than she expected (despite all the Russian language and culture lessons), and battles her mother's very vocal, Russian expectations for daughters. This is a classic immigrant memoir written in a Russian flavor. The most noticeable difference between the two books is language and pacing. As Elena becomes more fluent in English, her writing becomes less philosophically ponderous and more about moving the narrative along.

Feb 05, 2016

Although this is a sequel to Ms. Gorokhova’s wonderful memoir “A Mountain of Crumbs”, which dealt with the author’s life growing up in Soviet Leningrad, “Russian Tattoo” is a self-contained book about the author’s experience as an immigrant to America. People who start with this book will appreciate the flashbacks to Ms. Gorkhova’s Soviet past; those who have already read “A Mountain of Crumbs” may find that there is a tad too much repetition of what has gone before.
That said, it is a funny, touching, beautifully written account of what the immigrant experience was for one brilliant Russian, who came by herself, but later brought her mom and her elder sister to America. She brings out how difficult the process is for those who have been brought up under Communism, and how for her and others like her, they will always to some degree be strangers in their new country, even as they increasingly become strangers to their old one.
It is a pity that there were no illustrations in this book. In fact, to see pictures of Ms. Gorkhova’s post-emigration life, one has to go to the last photographs in her previous memoir, “A Mountain of Crumbs”.

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