Panic in a Suitcase

Honoree, 5 Under 35 2014

Panic in a Suitcase cover
ISBN 9781594632143
Riverhead Books
Yelena Akhtiorskaya author photo
Yelena Akhtiorskaya

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In this account of two decades in the life of an immigrant household, the fall of communism and the rise of globalization are artfully reflected in the experience of a single family. Ironies, subtle and glaring, are revealed: the Nasmertovs left Odessa for Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with a huge sense of finality, only to find that the divide between the old world and the new is not nearly as clear-cut as they thought. The dissolution of the Soviet Union makes returning just a matter of a plane ticket, and the Russian-owned shops in their adopted neighborhood stock even the most obscure comforts of home. Pursuing the American Dream once meant giving up everything, but does the dream still work if the past is always within reach?


Yelena Akhtiorskaya and Aleksandar Hemon at the 2014 5 Under 35 Celebration