The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
Translated By: Tim Mohr
Published by: Europa Editions
Published on: April 2011
Page Count: 304
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Paperback and eBook
Rosa Achmetowna is a unique woman. She lives in a small Soviet apartment with her husband, daughter Sulfia, and a roommate. She feels she has all the answers for everyone’s life, not recognizing or caring about how miserable everyone else is. When her daughter becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she tries every possible way she can to abort the pregnancy. Nothing worked and soon enough Aminat is born. New life can signal a new beginning of all kinds, but any hope that Rosa would learn to see outside of herself is quickkly dashed. In her own way, she falls in love with Aminat and schemes to rid Sulfia from their lives. Although none of her plans ever seem to work out quite like she expected, Rosa never sees the error of her ways. After all, she does everything for the ones she loves. How ever could she be in the wrong?
I gave up counting how many times I said, “Oh no she didn’t!’ while reading The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine. She looks down at her poor daughter Sulfia because she didn’t live up to the glorified vision she has of herself and anything she could have created. There is never any concern for what Sulfia wants out of life. In fact, it’s almost as if she purposefully sets out to destroy any happiness that anyone in her family discovers. Had this book not been written with such humor, Rosa would have been the Annie Wilkes of mothers. Reading this book would have been like living in a nightmare. Instead, there is the right amount of humor that it made me smile at how unabashedly egocentric Rosa was.
The Hottest Dishes in the Tartar Cuisine is my first Alina Bronksy novel. I really enjoyed the stark world she created. Her perspective was incredible. In other hands Rosa would have been too brutal to bear or a cliche. Instead, she is a woman with goals for her family but doesn’t live up to them herself. The hypocrisy is lost on Rosa. It’s almost a gem of a gift for the reader. Some of the insults that Rosa flung at her husband were the only parts of the translation that stuck out to me. Words like “turd” just felt out of place. Being unfamiliar with typical Russian insults, it’s entirely possible that it’s just about my personal preferences. Regardless, it is a trivial concern. I must pick up a copy of Broken Glass Park. I want to watch Bronsky’s career.
Rosa Achmetowna makes Scarlett O’Hara look like a Girl Scout and perhaps even Mother of the Year. Her story should be compulsory reading for every teenage daughter who thinks her mother is the worst mother in the world. Very few mothers will retain monster status in comparison. I am so glad that this book caught my eye on Twitter. It’s absorbing and makes you appreciative for the life that you have. Even if you’re not a morose teenager, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine makes you want to give your mother a big hug and thank your lucky stars.