I Named My Dog Pushkin (And Other Immigrant Tales): Notes From a Soviet Girl on Becoming an American Woman

· Thread
2 reviews

About this ebook

Buy a pair of Levi’s, lose the Russian accent, become an American… how hard could it be?

Moscow, 1988. After years of antisemitic harassment, countless hours waiting in line for toilet paper, and having zero access to cool jeans, Margarita decides it’s time to get the hell out of the Soviet Union. While dreaming of buying the boat-sized Buick she’d seen in a pirated VHS of Miami Vice and getting a taste of whatever it is Bruce Springsteen is singing about, she comes up with a plan to escape Mother Russia for good.

When Margarita arrives in the US with her family, she has one objective – become fully American as soon as possible, and leave her Soviet past behind. But she soon learns that finding her new voice is harder than avoiding the KGB.

Because, how do you become someone else completely? Is it as simple as changing your name, upgrading your wardrobe and working on your pronunciation of the word ‘sheet’? Can you let go of old habits (never, ever throw anything away), or learn to date without hang-ups (‘there is no sex in the Soviet Union’ after all)? Will you ever stop disappointing your parents, who expect you to become a doctor, a lawyer, an investment banker and a classical pianist – all at the same time? And can you still become the person you dreamed you’d be, while learning to embrace parts of yourself you’ve wanted to discard for good when you immigrated?

Absolutely hilarious, painfully honest and sometimes heart-breaking, the award-winning I Named My Dog Pushkin will have fans of David Sedaris and Samantha Irby howling with laughter at Margarita’s failures, her victories and the life lessons she learns as she grows as both a woman and an immigrant, in a world that often doesn’t appreciate either.

What readers are saying about I Named My Dog Pushkin:

Hilariously funny, whip-smart and absolutely fascinating… Silver shows that the only person she needs to ever become is herself. Just amazing.’ Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You

Laugh-out-loud funny... a particular pleasure to see our splintered country through the eyes of this determined and appreciative emigree.’ NPR Books

‘An eye-opener… a whole other brand of Jewish humor… The book's wit, drama and erudition appear to me wholly miraculous. Margarita deserves a literary prize.’ Alicia Bay Laurel, New York Times bestselling author of Living on the Earth

Hysterically funny and thought-provoking… perfect for anyone fascinated with the USSR’ FangirlNation

‘I thoroughly enjoyed Margarita's witty and acerbic voice. This book was a delight!’ Jen Mann, New York Times bestselling author of People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Hilarious… From one USSR immigrant to another... I related a lot.’ Margarita Levieva, HBO's The Deuce

Hilarious and thought-provoking.’ California Bookwatch

‘A memoir like this is so very rare, one in which you learn a great deal, while laughing throughout. Highly, highly recommended.’ Wandering Educators

‘Plunges the reader into a world in which Coca-Cola is synonymous with freedom… rivetingmoving… Gokun Silver is a gifted, witty writer.’ Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Sure to delight while tugging at your heartstrings.’ Jewish Book Council

Had me laughing and smiling all the way through… a perfect balance of wit and seriousness… Superb.’ Goodreads reviewer

Laughed my socks off!’ Goodreads reviewer

I loved this book so much… I just could not stop reading.’ NetGalley reviewer


A sharp, witty memoir… Margarita captured Jewish joy and grief together perfectly.’ Goodreads reviewer


Darkly funny… reminiscent of other acerbic comedian authors like Sara Barron… fascinating.’ NetGalley reviewer

Ratings and reviews

2 reviews
Janice Tangen
July 25, 2021
situational-humor, verbal-humor, education, USA, USSR, Russia, Italy, cancer-survivor, cultural-assimilation, cultural-exploration, culture-shock, laugh-riot, laugh-out-loud, snark-fest***** Laughed my sox off! About half of this is so closely related to stories I've heard from Russian/Polish/East German co-workers that I just wanted to hunt them up and tell them to get this book, especially since her main phobia was that she'd sound too Russian. Talk about snarky humor. She also relates issues somewhat specific to having been born into a (nonpracticing) Jewish family who are clueless about Jewish practices (even Yiddish!) until moving to the US where the sponsors painstakingly informed them of all they'd been missing (rugelach!) as well as how to speak English clearly. She even uses humor to share some of the trials of infertility and the horror of having cancer treatments at the same time as her husband. Throughout she relates the guilt inducing behaviors of her Russian mother (mine was Polish, same awful) and later her efforts to deal with her own daughter as a teenager while being determined NOT to emulate her mother. There's lots more but I'm getting too wordy as it is, so I'll just repeat--laughed my sox off! Voice actress Laurel Lefkow is superb at underplaying for maximum effect. I requested and received a free temporary audio copy from Bookouture Audio/Thread Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
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