Synopses & Reviews
Coming from a thoroughly secular Soviet background, the Russian-British novelist Zinovy Zinik became fully aware of his Jewishness for the first time when he immigrated to Israel in the 1970s. In this innovative autobiographical tale, Zinik describes how an experience in Berlinof seeing in reality a mysterious house he had dreamed about many years before in Londonled him to investigate the checkered and enigmatic past of his Russian-born grandfather. To his surprise, Zinik discovered that his grandfather, while ostensibly practicing as a doctor in Lithuania, had a hand in building the Soviet empire from which Zinik had to escape fifty years later.
In the entertaining and exhilarating manner of the classic detective story, Ziniks narrative of assumed identity and plagiarized past culminates in the redemption that the acknowledgment of identity can offer. Zinik ultimately concludes that this identity recognition is not only central to the twentieth-century Jewish experience, or even the wider world of émigrés, exiles, and migrants of all kinds, but to the human condition itself.
“Zinovy Zinik makes you think and he makes you laugh.”New York Times Book Review
“A great comic gift and an intricate critical mind”Literary Review
“Around his wider reflections on race, identity and cultural memory, Zinik weaves a personal meditation on his distant past spurred by a series of Proustian prompts. . . . Pleasantly ruminative and crammed with witty observations.”—Times Literary Supplement
Times Literary Supplement
Coming from a thoroughly secular Soviet background, the Russian-British novelist Zinovy Zinik became aware for the first time of his “Jewishness” when he emigrated to Israel in the 1970s. In this stylistically innovative autobiographical tale Zinik describes how an unheimliche experience in Berlin—of seeing for real the house he dreamed about many years before in London-led him to investigate the chequered and enigmatic past of his Russian-born grandfather, who, while ostensibly practicing as a doctor in Lithuania, was building the Soviet empire from which Zinik tried to escape 50 years later.
In the manner of the classic detective story, Ziniks meditation on “assumed identity” and “plagiarized past” culminates in the notion of recognition as a redeeming factor, suggesting that it is not only central to the twentieth-century Jewish experience or even the wider world of émigrés, exiles and migrants of all kinds, but to the human condition itself.
About the Author
is a Moscow-born novelist and critic. Since 1976 he has lived and worked in London. Of his ten books of fiction, The Mushroom Picker, The Lord and the Gamekeeper, One-Way-Ticket and Mind the Doors
have been published in English. He regularly contributes to BBC Radio, the Times Literary Supplement and other periodicals.
Table of Contents
Dwarf Long Nose
By the Rivers of Babylon
Among the Believers
An Ex-isles Dream
The Dream as Shadow
The Grandparents Larder
Across the River into the Past
Beyond the Pale
Trophies of the Communal Past
The Act of Recognition