Pub Date 15 Jan 2020
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Set in the summer of 1979 at the height of the movement to free Soviet Jewry, Farewell, Mama Odessa is an autobiographical novel whose intertwined storylines follow a variety of people—dissidents, victims of ethnic discrimination, and black marketeers among them—as they bid farewell to their beloved hometown of Odessa, Ukraine, and make their way to the West. At the book’s center is Boris, a young writer thwarted by state censorship and antisemitism. With an Angora kitten for his companion and together with other émigrés, he puts the old country in his rear-view mirror and sets out on a journey that will take him to Bratislava, Vienna, Rome, and New York on his way to Los Angeles. Will Boris be able to rekindle his creative passion and inspiration in the West? Will other Jewish émigrés fit into the new society, so much different than the one they left behind? With humor and compassion, Farewell, Mama
Odessa describes the émigrés’ attempts at adjustment to the free world.
"Although Emil Draitser's work is saturated with humor—dwellers of Odessa, the 'capital of Russian humor,' cannot be portrayed otherwise—it is a serious book, an excellent insight into the Soviet Jewish psyche of the 1970s." —Gennady Estraikh, New York University
“Stuffed with memorable characters, Farewell, Mama Odessa rolls along with a tender, satiric pitch that's almost musical. A book both mischievous and openhearted.” —Sana Krasikov, novelist, award-winning contributor to New Yorker and Atlantic
"The story of two lives in Soviet Odessa of the 1970s, as colorful and funny as an Odessa joke, as brilliant as the Black Sea on a sunny day. Emil Draitser's evocative writing is based on his personal experience of crossing the border between the grey repressive Soviet Union and the unknown Western world. A captivating read." —Elena Gorokhova, NYT bestselling author of A Mountain of Crumbs and Russian Tattoo