Synopses & Reviews
Rosa Achmetowna is the outrageously nasty and wily narrator of this rollicking family saga from the author of Broken Glass Park
. 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. In her new novel, Russian-born Alina Bronsky gives readers a moving portrait of the devious limits of the will to survive.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"What begins as a cruel comic romp ends as a surprisingly winning story of hardship and resilience." The New Yorker
"A rich, funny and unspeakably delicious novel." Bookslut
"Bronsky's great gift is humor." Los Angeles Times
"Bronsky lands another hit with this hilarious, disturbing, and always irreverent blitz." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Alina Bronsky was born in Yekaterinburg, an industrial town at the foot of the Ural Mountains in central Russia. She moved to Germany when she was thirteen. Broken Glass Park, nominated for one of Europe's most prestigious literary awards, the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, is her first novel. Alina Bronsky is a pseudonym.