Generic Post-Soviet Jewish Novel

by Gordon Haber

I was a child in Russia where everybody thought a Jew was a very bad thing, even other Jews. Actually it was Ukraine but Americans don’t know the difference so we just say “Russia” and leave it at that. Anyway during glasnost period — remember Gorbachev, the bald Russian politician with spot shaped like Japan on his head? — my family decided to leave Soviet Union for America, where we could be free to obsess about being Jews from the Soviet Union.

We had a very hard time in America. In Russia (actually Ukraine) my father was an astrophysicist and neuroscientist but in America he could only get a job for his cousin cleaning dental instruments. My mother was very talented linguist speaking Russian, Polish, Byelorussian, Kazakh, Chechen, Ossetic, Tatar, Yakut, Azerbaijani and Spanish. In America she could only get a job as a hypercritical person who sighs a lot and cooks too much food.

My parents scrimped and saved to send me to a prestigious American college where I decided to study English. Every holiday when I would come home to visit my father would say, “For this I am cleaning dental instruments?” And my mother would sigh and say I look fat and make 10,000 blini. At college I studied many American authors and had many excruciating episodes with the opposite sex that will nevertheless be endearing to the reader while simultaneously demonstrating my superior understanding of world literature.

Then I was an adult and I found a job at a magazine for people who cleaned dental instruments, which is very ironic, and I had many more excruciating but endearing episodes with the opposite sex. I took a trip to the former Soviet Union, where my languages skills were very helpful in creating more excruciating yet endearing episodes with the opposite sex. Finally I returned to America, where I met a very nice person who helped me cement my membership in the American intellectual hipster elite while simultaneously allowing me to embrace the deep, endearing pathos of the post-Soviet American Jew.