BC Bookmarks

Leaving Russia

Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story, a memoir by Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies Maxim D. Shrayer has been released in a paperback edition. The first English-language, autobiographical and nonfictional account of growing up Jewish in the former USSR, Leaving Russia poignantly conveys the triumphs and humiliations of a Soviet childhood and expresses the dreams and fears of Shrayer’s family, who left the Soviet Union in 1987. The Shrayer family was among the veteran Jewish refuseniks who, during the dawn of Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, were granted exit visas to emigrate from the country. Narrated in the tradition of Tolstoy’s confessional trilogy and Nabokov’s autobiography, Leaving Russia offers a searing account of growing up a Jewish refusenik, of a young poet’s rebellion against totalitarian culture, and Soviet fantasies of the West during the Cold War. “It was important to tell this story because the Jewish experience in Russia—and especially during the Soviet period—is not fully understood in America,” Shrayer said, “this despite the fact that it’s now difficult to imagine the fabric of our communities without ex-Soviet Jews.” More from BC News.