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Library Journal (starred review): "A very funny and a very dark black comedy"

Date: Apr 1 2011

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Bronsky, Alina. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine. Europa, dist. by Penguin. May 2011. c.272p. tr. from German by
Tim Mohr. ISBN 9781609450069. pap. $15.


“Am I an evil woman?” Rosa Achmetowna asks her long-suffering husband, who immediately begins to choke on a piece of eggplant. Rosa, the matriarch of a Tartar family living in the former Soviet Union, is not exactly evil, but she is a relentlessly interfering and self-centered mother and grandmother and a wildly entertaining (if somewhat unreliable) narrator. Rosa is the star of this second novel by Bronsky (following Broken Glass Park), but it is really the story of three women and the roller-coaster relationship among them before, during, and after an ill-fated move to Germany. Sulfia, the daughter, is a struggling nursing assistant, as selfless as Rosa is selfish; Aminat, the granddaughter, is a temperamental and troubled future reality TV star. The title may scream “chick lit,” but this is both a very funny and a very dark black comedy that takes unexpected and increasingly tragic turns. ­VERDICT Bronsky instinctively understands that the way to a reader’s heart is through great characters. Rosa and her family are creations that won’t easily be forgotten, and the subtle and complex themes add plenty of flavor. This reviewer is looking forward to whatever she whips up next.

 

Forest Turner, Suffolk Cty. House of Correction Lib., Boston