Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
|New from||Used from|
...It is refreshing to snatch a glimpse of a lesser-known part of Russia, which as the country's only Jewish Autonomous Region has a unique history all its own. Nevertheless, the history it shares with the rest of Russia is strikingly apparent in the author's daily interactions. Dirlam observes of her friends and acquaintances in Birobidjan a mentality almost identical to that of Svetlana Franzevna in "A Dark, Cold Night" or Jessica Mason's babushka in "The Best of the Worst" -- "that they will endure." When her fellow teachers are repeatedly denied their monthly paychecks, Dirlam asks why they don't go on strike. The reply? "It woudn't do any good." On a more personal level, however, such passivity is far less prevalent, as her friends and colleagues repeatedly demonstrate willful, spirted and sometimes stubborn resolve. "Beyond Siberia" paints colorful portraits of Birobidjan's residents, but it is also a deeply personal narrative. Dirlam recounts the challenges she encounters as a foreigner struggling to find "home" in a place where most residents have never laid eyes on an American before. It may take time to adjust to the book's fragmented, meandering style. Though I often found myself wishing that it was more closely organized around one enduring theme, I finished with an appreciation for the way that its scrambled structure reflects the chaos of everyday life. --Glimpse magazine, winter 2005
Hey, if you think this winter has been rough, spend a few years in northern Russia! Los Angeles Times travel writer Sharon Dirlam and her husband, John McCafferty, were Peace Corps volunteers in the Jewish Autonomous Region of the Russian Far East. The inhabitants there have been cut off from contact with foreigners for most of the 20th century, and since the fall of communism have struggled to master unprecedented freedoms, an old religion, dysfunctional bureaucracies and mysterious new rules. Sharon and John were the first Americans they'd ever met. The friends they made, their relationship with each other, and the intrigues of the people around them form the foundation of their story. --Mensa Bulletin, March 2005
The author doesn't look unusual. yet within her thin attractive exterior is a world citizen so unique that she and her story are worth getting to know. Beyond Siberia is that story. It is her emotive memoir of the years, 1996 to 1998, that the former reporter, editor and travel writer spent teaching English, along with her husband, John, in a little-known place called Birobidjan, Russia. Relatively few people settled comfortably in their 50s sign up for the Peace Corps. Fewer still end up in a place that is, as Dirlam phrased it, "Seven time zones east of Moscow, three days by train east of Siberia, remote." They were the first Peace Corps volunteers in the region, and the first native English speakers most of their students had ever met. "Many of our students had an astonishingly large English vocabulary," she writes, "Though it was as outdated as their books for home reading ... but other than memorized dialogues, they didn't speak English very well. Their textbooks, held together by string and willpower, contained hundred-year-old British short stories whose common theme was their complete insipid innocuousness." Despite this and other living challenges, they continued. And thrived. While some incidents are too briefly related, her writing generally provides a strong sense of the daily struggles, laughter, love, friendship and work that made up their lives. It is lovingly and vividly told. --South Coast Beacon, Feb. 3, 2005
Sharon Dirlam spent nine years as a travel writer on the staff of the Los Angeles Times. Before that, she was a reporter and city editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press. She has also been a Stanford Journalism Fellow.
She received her bachelor's degree from Antioch University and her master's from the School for International Training.
After serving in the Peace Corps, she trained five groups of Peace Corps volunteers in Russia, Macedonia and the Republic of Georgia.
The author has such an astute power of observing small details, how people walk, dress, the many foods she and her husband are offered, that I felt I took the journey with her. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Felixa:
My name is mentioned, so it's gotta be good! Really, Sharon, thank you for writing this memoir. It is too easy to forget the way things were, and it is good to be reminded: to... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Denis Boyle
I didn't that's for sure. Intrigued, I ordered this book from Amazon.
Sharon Dirlam's report of the two years she and her husband, John McCafferty, spent in Russia's... Read more
As I read these other reviews I'm curious if they were reading the same book that I read. I gave it 2 stars only because I have read worse books. Read morePublished on December 10, 2006 by Luke Nye