A Mountain of Crumbs is the moving story of a young Soviet girl's discovery of the hidden truths of adulthood and her country's profound political deception.
Elena, born with a desire to explore the world beyond her borders, finds her passion in the complexity of the English language - but in the Soviet Union of the 1960s, such a passion verges on the subversive. Elena's home is no longer the majestic Russia of literature or the tsars. Instead, it is a nation humiliated by its first faltering steps after World War II, putting up appearances for the sake of its regime and fighting to retain its pride.
In this deeply affecting memoir, Elena re-creates the world that both oppressed and inspired her. She recounts stories passed down to her about the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution and probes the daily deprivations and small joys of her family's bunkerlike existence. Through Elena's captivating voice, we learn not only the personal story of Russia in the second half of the twentieth century, but also the story of one rebellious citizen whose love of a foreign language finally transports her to a new world.
'This moving memoir made me cry' The New York Times
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This is a rich experience - a personal journey paralleled by huge national changes and ending in a deeply satisfying portrait of peace in America -
The story of a young person of sparkling intelligence, full of curiosity about the world, struggling to grow and blossom under a duplicitous, censorious, and unremittingly mean-minded social system. An enthralling read -
In the spirit of Dostoyevsky, it is an endlessly Russian quest for self-redemption . . . I advise you to read the book. It will give you pleasure -
A Mountain of Crumbs is an exquisitely wrought, tender memoir of growing up in the Soviet Union . . . Gorokhova writes about her life with a novelist's gift for threading motives around the heart of a story, following it's plot with a light touch and unwavering honesty. - The New York Times
Elena Gorokhova has written the Russian equivalent of Angela's Ashes, an intimate story of growing up into young womanhood told with equal grace and humor -
Elena Gorokhova has written an endearing, sensitive story of her early years in the USSR. Her memoir is proof that the human spirit can triumph even in the most repressive of times -
A Mountain of Crumbs is an extraordinary memoir. Elena Gorokhova's writing - gorgeous and evocative - is enriched by her connection to two languages, Russian and English. Brilliant and moving -
This is a diamond of a memoir. Elena Gorokhova captures the essence of a vanished world with a poet's eye, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey, where every detail transcends the commonplace and every page bears witness to the deepest longings of the human heart. This memoir offers a rare glimpse of life in the former Soviet Union, and also of the universal search for love and autonomy that binds us all together, regardless of time and place -
Almost painful in its authenticity, this hypnotically readable memoir has the sweep and power of a great Russian novel -
Elena Gorokhova doesn't use broad strokes to paint a picture of daily life in Brezhnev-era Soviet Union. Vivid memories, such as licking fresh raspberry jam out of a wooden bowl as her mother prepares food for the winter months, or the familiar, comforting scent of her father - tobacco and brown soap - brightly dot the harsh, gray background of everyday life in Gorokhova's native Leningrad. As Western culture peeks through cracks in the Iron Curtain in the 1960s and '70s, Gorokhova is determined to see what's on the other side and have new experiences, like eating 'something called a shrimp.' Her spare lyricism delicately captures a vanished world - USA Today
A smart, spirited tale about growing up in the colorless Soviet Union - People Magazine
This moving memoir made me cry - The New York Times
Rich with honesty and insight . . . a stunning memoir: subtle, yet brimming with depth and detail. It leaves you wanting more - The Daily Telegraph
A Mountain of Crumbs is written above all with an almost painful tenderness that brought a lump to my throat more than once ... Gorokhova's memoir looks back with love at the lost world of the dacha, of mushroom-picking in the forest, and the utterly reassuring homeland contained within her mother's apple-print polyester dress. Her prose brims with an elegiac emotion and sensuality which even Turgenev, in his own European exile, might have envied - Spectator
Combining Gorokhova's fantastic eye for an image with her acute sense for the absurd, A Mountain of Crumbs: growing Up Behind The Iron Curtain elegantly dramatises the bewildering chasm between the projected, glittering idealism of the Soviet Union and its drab, quotidian reality - Metro
An exquisitely moving memoir detailing Gorokhova's experiences of growing up behind the Iron Curtain. Her story of oppression and hope is described in distinctive poetical prose - Marie Claire
Despite the specificity of the memoir, the themes and characters have universality - a domineering mother, a rebellious child, finding passion and beauty in the surprising places. A celebration of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and oppression - Easy Living
In this gently delightful memoir, Elena Gorokhova recounts her coming of age in Russia during 1960s and 1970s ... There's a wonderful cosy intimacy to her writing; her use of the present tense keeps it fresh and unburdened ... I loved reading A Mountain of Crumbs. Gorokhova is a fine writer with a delicate, sensitive touch, whose voice in nonetheless fearless and clarion. I hope there's a sequel. After coming of age comes surely that other great memoir, coming to America - The Sunday Times
Her richly detailed story explores the reality of her politically subversive passions for language and freedom in a fearful, failing society that distrusted its citizens and repressed individuality - Saga
It takes talent to write a good memoir and Gorokhova has more than most. Fascinating anecdotes show us her mother's youth, and her own recollections spring to life with an artist's eye for those details that can conjure a mood or a moment. The privations, oppressions and joys are all described with shining curiosity in this captivating book - WBQ
Gorokhova's beautiful understated portrait of her childhood ... her evocation of her formidable mother - who asks Stalin personally for funds for a maternity ward, and gets them - is among the memorable gems of her deceptively masterful tale - Sunday Times
Elena Gorokhova grew up in St Petersburg, Russia, although for most of her life it was known as Leningrad. At the age of twenty-four she married an American and came to the United States with one twenty-kilogram suitcase to start a new life. Now Elena is a writer and lives in New Jersey.