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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lev Golinkin Narrator: Daniel Gamburg Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A compelling story of two intertwined journeys: a Jewish refugee family fleeing persecution and a young man seeking to reclaim a shattered past

In the twilight of the Cold War, nine-year-old Lev Golinkin and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, $600, and the vague promise of help awaiting in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family’s long trek, locate the strangers who fought for his freedom, and in the process, gain a future by understanding his past.

Lev Golinkin’s memoir is the vivid, darkly comic, and poignant story of a young boy in the confusing and often chilling final decade of the Soviet Union. It’s also the story of Lev Golinkin, the American man who finally confronts his buried past by returning to Austria and Eastern Europe to track down the strangers who made his escape possible … and thank them. Written with biting, acerbic wit and emotional honesty in the vein of Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Bezmozgis, Golinkin’s search for personal identity set against the relentless currents of history is more than a memoir: it’s a portrait of a lost era. This is a thrilling tale of escape and survival, a deeply personal look at the life of a Jewish child caught in the last gasp of the Soviet Union, and a provocative investigation into the power of hatred and the search for belonging. Lev Golinkin achieves an amazing feat—and it marks the debut of a fiercely intelligent, defiant, and unforgettable new voice.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Outstanding, original, and deeply moving.”

    Chuck Hogan, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Golinkin convincingly portrays the miseries, and rare joys, of his bullied, furtive childhood, and the limits it put on him…Trauma and his attempts to deal with it give substance to his book, although Golinkin supplements his memories with interviews and research that add important context…Golinkin has created a deeply moving account of fear and hope.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “This atmospheric, touching memoir, whose chapters begin with dates and locations to orient the reader, follows the Golinkins as they escape the Soviet Union and land in America…Eye-opening for those who come to the US and for those who help them do so.”

    Booklist

  • “An ex–Iron Curtain refugee turned American citizen tells the emotional story of how he and his parents fled the Ukraine two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union…A mordantly affecting chronicle of a journey to discover that ‘you can’t have a future if you don’t have a past.’”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “In Lev Golinkin’s skillful memoir, A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, we share his family’s traumatic flight to freedom from Soviet Ukraine, and then a young man’s brave attempt to build a meaningful life in the United States.”

    Peter Eisner, author of The Pope’s Last Crusade

  • “There’s a gem on every page of A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka. Lev Golinkin has the skill and vision necessary to tell the story of a crumbling empire and the soulfulness and flair to capture that story in the saga of one man. He’s an alert, and witty, and humane storyteller. I will eagerly read anything he writes.”

    Avi Steinberg, author The Lost Book of Mormon

  • “A soulful tale that is both incredibly beautiful and wickedly funny, a tale of being lost, being found, and finding home.”

    Helene Stapinski, author of Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History

  • Winner of the 2014 Barnes & Noble Discover Award
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About the Author

Lev Golinkin came to the United States as a child refugee from the former Soviet Union. He is a graduate of Boston College and currently resides in New Jersey.