Soul to Soul: A Black Russian American Family, 1865-1992

Yelena Khanga, Author, Susan Jacoby, With
Yelena Khanga, Author, Susan Jacoby, With W. W. Norton & Company $22.95 (317p) ISBN 978-0-393-03404-2
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-0-393-31155-6
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With freelance writer Jacoby, Russian journalist Khanga offers a competent account of an unusual heritage. Her maternal grandparents were American Communists who in 1931 moved from New York City to Soviet Uzbekistan to develop a cotton industry: her grandfather, Oliver Golden, was black and the son of a slave; and her grandmother, Warsaw-born Bertha Bialek Golden, was the Jewish daughter of a Hebrew-school teacher and garment worker. Khanga's mother, Lily Golden, became the first scholar at the African Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, which Khrushchev created at the suggestion of Golden family friend W.E.B. Du Bois. Khanga's father, Abdullah, was an African independence leader who treated Lily like a traditional Muslim wife, locking her inside the home when he went out; in 1965 he was assassinated by political opponents in his native Zanzibar. Khanga describes the pitfalls of growing up in white, anti-American Soviet society, her reporting stints at a Moscow News revolutionized by glasnost and her work as an exchange journalist at the Christian Science Monitor in Boston. In America, she travels the country and finds her Bialek and Golden relatives. She is opinionated about American racism and reactions to African Americans, but, given her dual heritage, her treatments of African American anti-Semitism and American Jewry are curiously cursory. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
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