LIVE via Zoom:
Thursday, April 23, 7:30 PM (rescheduled from March 12)
Alex Halberstadt presents Young Heroes of the Soviet Union: A Memoir and a Reckoning
In conversation with Masha Gessen
In Young Heroes of the Soviet Union, award-winning author Alex Halberstadt embarks on a quest to name and acknowledge a legacy of family trauma, and to end a century-old cycle of estrangement. In Ukraine he tracks down his paternal grandfather—most likely the last living bodyguard of Joseph Stalin—to reckon with the ways in which decades of Soviet totalitarianism shaped three generations of his family. He visits Lithuania, his Jewish mother’s home, to examine the legacy of the Holocaust and pernicious anti-Semitism that remains largely unaccounted for. And he returns to his birthplace, Moscow, where his glamorous grandmother designed homespun couture for Soviet ministers’ wives, his mother consoled dissidents at a psychiatric hospital, and his father made a dangerous living dealing in black-market American records. Along the way, Halberstadt traces the fragile and indistinct boundary between history and biography. Finally, he explores his own story: that of an immigrant who arrived in America, to a housing project in Queens, New York. A now fatherless ten-year-old boy struggling with identity, rootlessness, and a yearning for home, he became another in a line of sons who grew up separated from their fathers by the tides of politics and history. Halberstadt discusses his book (virtually) with Masha Gessen, New Yorker writer and author of eleven books of nonfiction, including the National Book Award winner The Future Is History.