cover image Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table

Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table

Boris Fishman. HarperCollins, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-286789-6

This delightful, recipe-filled memoir from novelist Fishman (A Replacement Life) follows his Jewish family—and their richly-described dinner tables—across three generations, from 1945 Belarus to 2017 Brooklyn. Beginning in postwar Minsk, where the Holocaust left “an extended family of fewer than a dozen,” the author punctuates the story of his relatives’ emigration experience with their meals, from the braised sardines in his grandmother’s “Nazi cast-iron pot,” to the “peeled hard-boiled egg with a snowcap of mayonnaise” he relished as a child on the train out of the Soviet Union in 1988. In New York, Fishman grew into a romantically troubled writer struggling in his 30s to cope with “trauma-derived mother-hunger” inherited from his forebears and to hold onto his “past without being consumed by its poison.” Fishman found an unlikely guide in his grandfather’s Ukrainian home aide, whose cooking lessons delivered him from a tenderly rendered episode of clinical depression. There’s a large web of characters and anecdotes, but Fishman grounds the narrative with his witty prose and well-translated family recipes—like the Soviet Wings his family cooked in Italy while immigrating to America, and kasha varnishkes, perfect “for Passover if you’re an atheist.” Fishman’s sprawling immigrant saga masterfully evokes a family that survives, united by food. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Feb.)