The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Eugene Yelchin. Candlewick, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1552-6
In this frank, engaging memoir, Yelchin (Spy Runner) recounts his childhood in the U.S.S.R. as his boyhood self, Yevgeny, perceives and ponders it. Living in one room of a communal apartment with his grandmother, parents, and figure-skating champion older brother—and a government spy eavesdropping on them next door—Yevgeny searches for the talent that will make him “free” like the famous ballet dancers and ice skaters who have private apartments and travel abroad. At night, sleeping on a cot under the dining table, he tries to make sense of life by drawing on the underside of the table with a pencil stolen from his father. Yelchin humorously and sympathetically depicts his Jewish family—his outspoken mother who worships Mikhail Baryshnikov, his “tight-lipped communist” father with a passion for Russian poetry—as well as his tender sibling relationship. The penetrating pencil-textured drawings that accompany Yelchin’s perceptive text (“No chewing gum was sold in our country... We barely had stuff to eat, let alone stuff to chew”) are, he writes, rooted in memories of those early table sketches, and complement young Yevgeny’s earnest, often baffled, voice. At once comical and disquieting, the book is an illuminating introduction to a young life in the former Soviet Union. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/26/2021
Release date: 10/05/2021
Genre: Children's
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-7136-4465-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-7136-2991-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-7136-2990-0
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