Cover Image: I Named My Dog Pushkin (And Other Immigrant Tales)

I Named My Dog Pushkin (And Other Immigrant Tales)

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Member Reviews

Funny and fascinating. I loved hearing about Gokun Silver's life, from her childhood and adolescence in the USSR, through the process of immigrating to the US, to raising her own child in America. Her funny takes on the culture differences, food differences, just all the differences in general, were so entertaining and informative at the same time. Really enjoyable.

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I enjoyed and appreciated this author’s memoir and thoughts on her immigration to America and her life in Russia as a Jewish family. Her essays include a good amount of humor and rawness which drew me in.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this audiobook. This is my honest review.

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This book is a breath of fresh air for me. I read a review of it when it first came out, and was delighted to get permission to listen to the audiobook.
Margarita Gokun Silver was a Jewish Soviet child with a great dream of escaping her life and reaching ‘freedom’ of America. Soviet Russia was full of antisemism, where the party dictated the status of all citizens, and even the jobs which different ethnic groups could train for and perform.
Narrated by Laurel Lefkow, this audiobook covers Margarita’s childhood, teenage years and eventual arrival in America. She explains how she persuaded her family to move ‘to the capitalist world’, how they managed language and cultural differences between soviet Russia, Italy and the USA. It also charts the navigateion of the family as cultural Jews in Russia to becoming mildly observant, attending prayers and mixing in the American Jewish scene.
Mostly, Margarita explores how she was always hoping to fit in with her new country, and not feeling 100% accepted, and that wishing to reflect her own self didn’t always work out: from being too Jewish and not Jewish enough, being Soviet to being American. Life as an immigrant is not at all easy.
And this is how I relate to Margarita, as an English person married to an Irish person and living in Ireland. Physically I may not look ‘foreign’ but the culture, attitudes and way of life are different, and fitting in is not easy. Hearing my thoughts and experiences reflected back at me is comforting. Being an immigrant is not for the faint hearted.

Thanks to #NetGalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook in exchange for an honest review

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Funny, outrageous, witty, interesting: I loved every single one of these essays! I found myself laughing out loud in the middle of a Tesco as I was listening to tales of escaping Soviet Russia, selling trinkets in Italy, buying Levi's jeans in America and building a home in Uzbekistan. I also learned more about the last years of the Soviet regime, and about the shared experience of Russians and Jewish expats in the US. Absolutely delightful! I can see myself recommending it a lot!

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So, that was a really fun book to listen to.

I struggle a little bit with audiobooks, if the narrator isn't right, if the writing isn't fluid (too poetic, I mean), I lose my focus quite easily and then have to skip back. But this one was just right on point: the narrator has a voice that does not get tiring, she narrates the book at a great pace, great pronunciation (at least for the english, I know nothing about the russian parts), the tone was just right.

The writing, from what I heard (ha!) is quite simple, but pretty nevertheless. It's fun, it's cozy, it's a book I could listen while working, taking a walk or just laying in my bed with my eyes closed. Took me a couple weeks to listen to it all, but it was always really easy to pick up from where I had left it.

The story itself is very inspiring too. I was expecting something more dramatic (tragic, even), but it's just a fun book. And there's nothing wrong with a fun memoir. We actually need more of these. It was also very interesting to leart more about a jewish ex-ussr person.

Highly recommend, liked it a lot, wish the best for this book. Thank you very much.

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This was a quick, fun read. The short essay format reminded me of the ultimate situational humorist and one of my all-time favourite authors, Mr David Sedaris, but unfortunately that's where the similarities ended.

In this book Margarita recounts her immigration story, leaving Cold War era USSR with her family and ultimately arriving in the bright and shiny USA she had previously only dreamed about.

Each essay covers a central theme (the immigration process, her career choice, food, her daughter, her elders, her Jewishness etc) and provides amusing and sometimes surprising anecdotes comparing the two countries, their lifestyles and cultures.

As someone who grew up in Australia with very little experience with this era of the Soviet Union I loved hearing real examples of the differences between the countries.

Margarita brought a great energy to her stories and I enjoyed her self-depracating style overall. I did find the lists to be repetetive after a while, but I think that might have been a side-effect of listening to stories in close succession.

I listened the the audiobook and the narration was well delivered with excellent pronounciation.

I'd recommend this as something lighter for anyone curious about a personal account of life in cold war USSR and how a significant cultural change can influence someone.

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Thank you Netgalley for the advanced copy of this audio book

This had me laughing Throughout the book
A memoir on being a Russian immigrant in America which has some serious moments but mainly it's fun
I would definitely recommend this Book

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Humorous, heartfelt and honest. Our circumstances may be drastically different, but as an Eastern European having shared and achieved that ideal of moving to the West only to be confronted by the strange realities of it, I found I NAMED MY DOG PUSHKIN to be speaking to me on a level that I wasn't quite expecting, but truly hoped for. One of my new favourite memoirs!

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The memoir has such a unique and humorous perspective on the immigrant experience! I enjoyed the narrator and felt she was great in the inflictions needed to reflect the emotion (particularily) humor in the telling.

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I am going to come back and fill in this review a bit more as soon as I can but I wanted to get my initial thoughts down.
I really enjoyed this book, the writing, the story-telling, the authors voice were all amazing. I found myself both enthralled and laughing out loud while getting a very raw and honest insight into the author's experience.
While I liked the writing overall, it was definitely a strong stylistic choice that I am not sure will work for everyone. Like I said, I enjoyed it and even so, I found a few things a bit heavy handed:
1. Keeping up with a young ins and trying to sound update with all the slang. This wasn't too bad, but it did give me this weird sense of not being able to correctly keep the actual age of the author in mind witch I think is important for many of these stories. Every so often I would get a shock because the things she was describing didn't match up with my internal aging/ timeline.
2. There is a bit too much meta side notes to her editor/ talking about writing these stories that we are now reading. It didn't bother me at first but eventually it became a bit much.
3. The number of times the 2016 election/ Trump are mentioned, especially considering there is also a separate chapter dedicated to the topic, got really repetitive and annoying. Again, at first I was like, "haha, a person born in Russia making snide comments about Trump's relationship with Russia/ Putin" but at one point it started to feel like I was getting knocked over the head repeatedly with the point. (For anyone saying, well it is a big deal, I get that but on the other hand I would argue that Carona is maybe even more impactful on our lives now and that is only mentioned once or twice. Keep in mind she mentions that this book is being written during the pandemic, specifically, the last chapter is written in Dec 2020.)

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Absolutely loved it, a refreshening perspective on the new young Russian's. I have been to Russia and could relate to behaviours and attitudes of the old and my age! yet the youngsters have so much energy and a yearning for life outside everything they know. Its not that they want to forget their heritage but to embrace the world and wear their jeans. We do turn into our parents eventually and that comes across in the book, you can do the opposite all your life but your true self will eventually win. A wonderful bio of a life lived and still a lot to give, loved the humour and cultural aspects of the book and of course the recipes for new year buffet. Thank you #NetGalley for the audiobook to listen to in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you Netgalley, publishers and author for the advanced copy of this e-book.

This had me laughing and smiling all the way through. A really comical memoir on being a Russian immigrant in America. It has a perfect balance of wit and seriousness, while still having a great flow throughout.
Superb and enjoyable, I would definitely recommend this to people who don't normally venture into biographical accounts and nonfiction. It especially worked well as an audiobook I thought.

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Margarita Gokun Silver spent her entire childhood in the USSR.  As Soviet Jews, they were at extremely high risk for a wealth of trouble in their homeland. Margarita, like many other youth in the USSR, had a dream. She wanted more than just a pair of Levis and after years of trying to convince her family to make the move, they enacted their plan and left the USSR. This would lead to time in other countries before coming to the United States, and then adjusting hardcore to American norms. 

Margarita Gokun Silver's book, I Named my Dog Pushkin is both hysterically funny and thought-provoking. She talks about changing her name, shrugging off her parents desire for her to become a doctor, learning how to date in the US, and parenting her own daughter.  For many Jewish people, the 1980's were a time of major exodus from the USSR.  This book is thoughtful and enjoyable, and perfect for anyone fascinated with the USSR and the decade leading up to its end.  For those who prefer audiobooks, Laurel Lefkow does an incredible job, with perfect pacing and just the right amount of sarcasm. 

I Named My Dog Pushkin is now available from Thread Books.

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This was hilarious. Recommended for a bit of history and a lot of fun.

Review copy provided by publisher.

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A collection of humorous essays about the author's life as a Soviet Jewish refugee and efforts to assimilate to American culture. This book contained some entertaining and informative anecdotes, but overall was not particularly memorable for me. I found it a bit annoying that the author kept mentioning Trump -- I get that he was inescapable at the time she was writing this book, but I feel like as time goes on the political references will feel dated to readers.

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Thank you netgalley and thread books for the audiobook ARC!

essays about the author’s experiences growing up in the USSR, adjusting to American culture, and balancing her life between the two in trying to find her identity.

I liked the inclusion of a glossary and “useful tips” of things you need to know to fully understand the author’s references. Each chapter is an essay on a specific part of Margarita’s experience, which I really enjoyed especially on audio, rather than the book being a ‘Point A to Point B’ story.

Margarita and her stories are a balance of laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking. It was difficult at times to hear her experiences in the USSR as a Jewish woman and facing antisemitism both back in Russia and in the US. The book has dark humor, which I enjoyed at times.

Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir and the stories of immigration, Russian stereotypes and multicultural motherhood. It’s a great memoir that made me laugh, cry, and I learned some new things along the way ❤️

Highly recommend if you enjoy…. Memoirs, dark humor, multicultural and immigrant experiences

Rating: (4.5/5)

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situational-humor, verbal-humor, education, USA, USSR, Russia, Italy, cancer-survivor, cultural-assimilation, cultural-exploration, culture-shock, laugh-riot, laugh-out-loud, snark-fest*****

Laughed my sox off!
About half of this is so closely related to stories I've heard from Russian/Polish/East German co-workers that I just wanted to hunt them up and tell them to get this book, especially since her main phobia was that she'd sound too Russian. Talk about snarky humor. She also relates issues somewhat specific to having been born into a (nonpracticing) Jewish family who are clueless about Jewish practices (even Yiddish!) until moving to the US where the sponsors painstakingly informed them of all they'd been missing (rugelach!) as well as how to speak English clearly. She even uses humor to share some of the trials of infertility and the horror of having cancer treatments at the same time as her husband. Throughout she relates the guilt inducing behaviors of her Russian mother (mine was Polish, same awful) and later her efforts to deal with her own daughter as a teenager while being determined NOT to emulate her mother. There's lots more but I'm getting too wordy as it is, so I'll just repeat--laughed my sox off!
Voice actress Laurel Lefkow is superb at underplaying for maximum effect.
I requested and received a free temporary audio copy from Bookouture Audio/Thread Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

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Such a dark memoir! Firstly the tales of life in the USSR are heartbreaking, but there's so much dark humor in there I found it pretty easy to read!

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In <i>I Named My Dog Pushkin (And Other Immigrant Stories)</i>, we learn about author Margarita Gokun Silver's experience emigrating from Russia and her life in America. This was a hilarious memoir that made me laugh. At other points, it is heartbreaking to hear how Margarita and her family were treated in the USSR due to being Jewish. I enjoyed her use of footnotes throughout her essays. If you like memoirs that can at have times have dark humor, I recommend checking this one out!

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me an audio ARC of this book.

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I really enjoyed this memoir. The author grew up in the Soviet Union and left as a young adult with her family. As a Russian Jew, she did not have to escape or defect, as seen in the movies. She and her family left the USSR as refugees. Her insight into life in the USSR was fascinating. I enjoyed her stories and sense of humor. She also provided insight into the Russian stereotypes I was familiar with as an American growing up during the Cold War era. She also explained the immigrant experience through readable and entertaining essays.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Soviet Union, its people and culture. The Soviet era has ended; but autobiographies, such as this one, preserve the stories of its average citizens for future generations.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

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