The Russian (Authors) Are Coming

A Potpourri of Predictions

By Josh Lambert

Published January 02, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

One thing we know for sure is that 2014 will be a big year for young post-Soviet Jews who write in English.

Gary Shteyngart’s forthcoming memoir, which he did not title “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Jewness,” has already called attention to itself with a four-minute video that almost but not quite redeems the genre of the “book trailer” from its utter insipidity.

After “Little Failure” appears in January, we’ll get Lara Vapnyar’s “The Scent of Pine,” Ellen Litman’s “Mannequin Girl,” and, later in the year, Boris Fishman’s debut “A Replacement Life,” Anya Ulinich’s graphic novel “Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel,” and then David Bezmozgis’s third book, “The Betrayers.”

Expect trend pieces, in the Forward and elsewhere, which link up these fictions with demographic data about the growing prominence of post-Soviets in every other area of American Jewish life. And if anyone is still expecting this cohort to run out of material, the fictional smorgasbord will prove once again (maybe once and for all?) that the post-Soviet Jews weren’t just a cultural flash in the pan back in the aughts. These children of the Cold War have occupied the gooey center of 21st century American literature, and they’re not going anywhere.

Josh Lambert is the academic director of the Yiddish Book Center, visiting assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of “Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.