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The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
Cover of The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
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Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Finalist for the German Book Award
Favorite Read of the Year in the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal
In her second novel, Russian-born Alina Bronsky gives readers a moving portrait of the devious limits of the will to survive. The narrator of this rollicking family saga is the outrageously mischevious Rosa Achmetowna, whom The Millions calls "one of the most fascinating women in the world."
When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, "stupid Sulfia," is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa's surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother's eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.
Told with sly humor and an anthropologist's eye for detail, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine is the story of three unforgettable women whose destinies are tangled up in a family dynamic that is at turns hilarious and tragic.
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Finalist for the German Book Award
Favorite Read of the Year in the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal
In her second novel, Russian-born Alina Bronsky gives readers a moving portrait of the devious limits of the will to survive. The narrator of this rollicking family saga is the outrageously mischevious Rosa Achmetowna, whom The Millions calls "one of the most fascinating women in the world."
When she discovers that her seventeen-year-old daughter, "stupid Sulfia," is pregnant by an unknown man she does everything to thwart the pregnancy, employing a variety of folkloric home remedies. But despite her best efforts the baby, Aminat, is born nine months later at Soviet Birthing Center Number 134. Much to Rosa's surprise and delight, dark eyed Aminat is a Tartar through and through and instantly becomes the apple of her grandmother's eye. While her good for nothing husband Kalganow spends his days feeding pigeons and contemplating death at the city park, Rosa wages an epic struggle to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, whom she considers a woefully inept mother. When Aminat, now a wild and willful teenager, catches the eye of a sleazy German cookbook writer researching Tartar cuisine, Rosa is quick to broker a deal that will guarantee all three women a passage out of the Soviet Union. But as soon as they are settled in the West, the uproariously dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter and grandmother begin to fray.
Told with sly humor and an anthropologist's eye for detail, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine is the story of three unforgettable women whose destinies are tangled up in a family dynamic that is at turns hilarious and tragic.
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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 14, 2011
    Rosa Achmetowna, the frightening narrator of Bronsky's dark and wily latest (after Broken Glass Park), is a difficult person to like, much less love. She lives in a cramped Soviet apartment with her husband, teenage daughter Sulfia, and a nosy, disagreeable roommate. Brusque, brimming with bile, and ever judgmental, she is less than pleased when the "rather stupid" Sulfia winds up pregnant. Rosa immediately tries a variety of crude home remedies for aborting Sulfia's baby—but nine months later, Aminat, is born. Rosa is fundamentally nasty, yes, but she instantly falls in love with Aminat (who coincidentally bears a striking resemblance to Rosa), tries to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, and enjoys watching Aminat grow into a wild, willful thing as Rosa and Sulfia kidnap the little girl back and forth. Rosa's machinations grow increasingly devious until Aminat matures and comes to a crossroads of her own. Rosa is absolutely outrageous, a one-woman wrecking crew with no remorse, an acid tongue, and a conniving opportunist's sense of drive and desperation. Bronsky lands another hit with this hilarious, disturbing, and always irreverent blitz.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2011

    "Am I an evil woman?" Rosa Achmetowna asks her long-suffering husband, who immediately begins to choke on a piece of eggplant. Rosa, the matriarch of a Tartar family living in the former Soviet Union, is not exactly evil, but she is a relentlessly interfering and self-centered mother and grandmother and a wildly entertaining (if somewhat unreliable) narrator. Rosa is the star of this second novel by Bronsky (following Broken Glass Park), but it is really the story of three women and the roller-coaster relationship among them before, during, and after an ill-fated move to Germany. Sulfia, the daughter, is a struggling nursing assistant, as selfless as Rosa is selfish; Aminat, the granddaughter, is a temperamental and troubled future reality TV star. The title may scream "chick lit," but this is both a very funny and a very dark black comedy that takes unexpected and increasingly tragic turns. VERDICT Bronsky instinctively understands that the way to a reader's heart is through great characters. Rosa and her family are creations that won't easily be forgotten, and the subtle and complex themes add plenty of flavor. This reviewer is looking forward to whatever she whips up next.--Forest Turner, Suffolk Cty. House of Correction Lib., Boston

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
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Alina Bronsky
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