A Russian-Jewish family spends a summer in Italy as they wait for
their U.S. visas.In 1987, after waiting nine years to be permitted
to emigrate, the 20-year-old author, along with his aunt,
grandmother and younger cousin, boarded a plane from Moscow to
Vienna. They waited outside the city for several weeks, then moved
to a crumbling pensione in the slums behind Rome's Termini Station,
then into an overpriced apartment in the resort town of Ladispoli.
Their belongings were shipped to relatives in Providence, R.I.,
where they eventually settled. Without knowing when their visas
would be approved by the U.S. government, they were understandably
anxious - the author's father had difficulty sleeping, and his
mother obsessed about the state of their various apartments. But
for the author, on the brink of manhood, the European journey was
an eye-opening adventure. Given the opportunity to experience a new
country for the first time, he wandered the tiny streets of
Trastevere, haggling for groceries at the Plaza Vittorio Emmanuelle
and relaxing in the Villa Borghese. He also embarked on affairs
with an Italian beauty named Rafaella and with an old flame and
fellow Russian named Lana. The author's story provides plenty of
fodder for an engaging book - a bored group of Russian emigres in
an Italian beach town, a violinist who smuggles himself into the
country via the author's aunt's oversized suitcase, the gay
Azerbaijani teenager who longs for his lover back in Baku - but
Shrayer taints the narrative with oversentimentalization. More
importantly, he glosses over the actual meat of the story - the
reasons for his family's emigration - by calling the memories too
painful, an admission that is inconsistent with the book's
self-consciously serious tone.Nostalgia bests storytelling in this
meandering memoir. (Kirkus Reviews)
In 1987, a young Jewish man, the central figure in this captivating
book, leaves Moscow for good with his parents. They celebrate their
freedom in opulent Vienna and spend two months in Rome and the
coastal resort of Ladispoli. While waiting in Europe for a U.S.
refugee visa, the book's twenty-year-old poet quenches his thirst
for sexual and cultural discovery. Through his colorful Austrian
and Italian misadventures, he experiences the shock, thrill, and
anonymity of being in a Western democracy, running into European
roadblocks while shedding Soviet social taboos. As he anticipates
entering a new life in America, he movingly describes the baggage
that exiles bring with them, from the inescapable family ties to
the sweet cargo of memory. An emigration story, ""Waiting for
America"" explores the rapid expansion of identity at the cusp of a
new, American life. Told in a revelatory first-person narrative,
""Waiting for America"" is also a vibrant love story, in which the
romantic protagonist is torn between Russian and Western women.
Filled with poignant humor and reinforced by hope and idealism, the
author's confessional voice carries the reader in the same way one
is carried through literary memoirs like Tolstoy's ""Childhood"",
""Boyhood"", ""Youth"", Hemingway's ""Moveable Feast"", or
Nabokov's ""Speak"", ""Memory"". Babel, Sebald, and Singer - all
transcultural masters of identity writing - are the coordinates
that help to locate Waiting for America on the greater map of
Is the information for this product incomplete, wrong or inappropriate?
Let us know about it.
Does this product have an incorrect or missing image?
Send us a new image.
Is this product missing categories?
Add more categories.
Review This Product
No reviews yet - be the first to create one!