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.
Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love Paperback – June 2, 2009
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The stories amazingly all revolve around humble foods. A head of broccoli becomes a symbol of possibility for a deserted woman. A bowl of borscht represents comfort to an emigree dealing with the demands of a new country. A bag of puffed rice is a reminder of a traumatic event in a young girl's life.
All of the stories are tinged with the sadness of a place, a person, a dream left behind. Ms. Vapnyar deserves a wide audience for her beautiful prose.
FYI: one definitely true statement - the snow really does not crunch here the same way it did back in Russia...
If this is your first Vapnyar book, you also owe to yourself to read the other two: "There are Jews in My House", and "Memoirs of Muse".
One thing I found evident reading her books is how her English skills have progressed. While the early stories had the same witty and warm feeling, sometimes the diction felt a little too much like a word for word translation from Russian. I have a good fortune being fluent in both English and Russian, and was able to pick up on subtle details like that.
Overall, a great book, with a lot of powerful ideas packed in a small package.
"A Bunch of Broccoli on the Third Shelf" tells the story of Nina, a Russian immigrant who loves to shop for vegetables but rarely cooks them.
"Borscht" is a sad story about two people who come to the States to earn money for their families, but then their loved ones are indifferent to them going back home to Russia.
"Puffed Rice and Meatballs" is about Katya's memory of a childhood incident that she refuses to share with her American boyfriend.
In "Salad Olivier," a mother tries to find her daughter a boyfriend -- but he must be Russian.
"Luda and Milena" was my favorite story. Two older women fighting over an older man with their cooking.
In "Slicing Sauteed Spinach," Ruzena lets her lover choose her food for her. Until...
I really enjoyed this collection, but especially "Luda and Milena." It was a pure gem.
Lara Vapnyar won the 2004 Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers for There Are Jews in my House. She emigrated from Russia in 1994 when she was in her early twenties and now lives in New York.
Many of the stories deal with the Russian immigrant experience, especially in New York, where all the Russians are henceforth working as "computer programmers" no matter what their previous work entailed. Nina, the main character in the opening "A Bunch of Broccoli on the Third Shelf," actually was a computer programmer. Now she is obsessed with vegetable shopping, although she never actually gets around to cooking with them. Food, as in many of these stories, shows a hope for the future, of what people like Nina will someday accomplish. In the meantime, the vegetables rot in the refrigerator, another set of hopes turning moldy. However, while Vapnyar may deal in realism, she is not above seeing hope as the story ends with Nina standing on a chair above the broccoli finally steaming on stove as "the warm aroma of broccoli rose up, caressing Nina's face, enveloping the whole of her."
The realism also takes hold in "Salad Olivier" where we see the heroine challenged to find a husband which, according to a psychologist, will allow her father to rise from the couch and reenter life.Read more ›
Each story invites us into the uniquely captivating private worlds of Vapnyar's Eastern European native land. Even though Lara Vapnyar learned English only after immigrating to the USA in 1994, her writing is tasteful and vivid. Sprinkled with humor and the benevolence of humankind, this slim volume is a page-turner.
The first story, "A Bunch of Broccoli on the Third Shelf," opens with a vegetable lover named Nina who has recently arrived from Russia. Nina connects with food preferably to those around her. The descriptions of the vegetables make the reader sense them, the smell of them and the feel of them. The colorful abundance of the vegetable markets in New York represents her own fresh hopes and dreams. When Nina's husband leaves her, Nina's sister rummages through the refrigerator and remarks: "You've got the whole vegetable graveyard in here."
In "Puffed Rice and Meatballs," Katya yields to the whims of her lover in pillow talk. He tries to engage her in a discussion about the horror of communism but she changes the subject and recounts her first sexual experience to him instead. When she was in preschool, a young boy wanted to play "I'll show you mine and you show me yours," and she vividly recalls children eating from plates piled high with meatballs, countering the notion of food scarcity. Later at home, drinking dark tea and dipping into a jar of walnut jam, Katya finds the jam "too sugary and wrong." She's disgusted with herself and her story.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very entertaining and enjoyable. I would highly recommend it!Published 19 months ago by Julie A. Hopkins
What a gem! Very enjoyable reading and at the same time very thought provoking. I had heard one of the stories in this collection on NPR and I was intrigued; an excellent well... Read morePublished on April 21, 2012 by Heather
After reading the other reviews and the NYT review, I thought I would be blown away by these stories. As with movies, the mismatch of expectations turned into disappointment. Read morePublished on July 19, 2008 by M. Hyman