Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love
By Lara Vapnyar
Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375424878, 160pp.
Publication Date: June 3, 2008
List Price: $20.00*
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In a triumphant return to the short story, the form in which she made her extraordinary debut with There Are Jews in My House, Lara Vapnyar gives us a delightful new collection in which food and love intersect, along with their overlapping pleasures, frustrations, and deep associations in the lives of her unforgettable characters.
From “Broccoli” to “Borscht” to “Puffed Rice and Meatballs,” each of these new stories invites us into the uniquely captivating private worlds of Vapnyar’s Eastern European émigrés. There’s Nina, a recent arrival from Russia, for whom the colorful abundance of the vegetable markets in New York represents her own fresh hopes and dreams. . . Luda and Milena, who battle over a widower in their English class with competing recipes for cheese puffs, spinach pies, and meatballs . . . Sergey, who finds more comfort in the borscht made by a paid female companion than in her sexual ministrations. Each of the women and men who inhabit these witty, tender, and beautifully observed stories needs and longs for the taste and smell of home, wherever--and with whomever--that may turn out to be.
Russian in its wit and in many of its rich details, but American in its insistence on the quest for personal happiness, however provisional and however high the cost, Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love masterfully illuminates a very particular facet of desire with entirely charming results.
Lara Vapnyar emigrated from Russia in 1994. She is also the author of of the novel Memoirs of a Muse. There are Jews in My House was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and won the Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Open City. She lives with her family on Staten Island.
Praise for Memoirs of a Muse
“A smart, fetching comic novel that has its heart in the Russian masters and its attitude in modern New York . . . Full of generous intelligence.”
–The Boston Globe
“So good, so consistently fresh, funny, and surprising, that every sentence is a pleasure.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“[Vapnyar] is clearly a talented writer, possessed of an ample humor and insight and a humane sensibility.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“Hilarious . . . [Vapnyar’s] eye for the absurd remains sharp . . . An immensely talented storyteller.”
Praise for There Are Jews in My House
“Reading these stories is a bit like what it might have been like to look over Tolstoy’s shoulder while he examines a blade of grass, then another. In Vapnyar’s fiction, details jut, simple and bright, until they pose a world.”
“Prepare yourself for radiance.”
–New York Observer
“Superbly written tales that continue the tradition of Russian realism . . . One feels that a season is changing and the future has arrived.”
–The Washington Times