All Russians Love Birch Trees

All Russians Love Birch Trees

From Goodreads:

Set in Frankfurt, All Russians Love Birch Trees follows a young immigrant named Masha. Fluent in five languages and able to get by in several others, Masha lives with her boyfriend, Elias. Her best friends are Muslims struggling to obtain residence permits, and her parents rarely leave the house except to compare gas prices. Masha has nearly completed her studies to become an interpreter, when suddenly Elias is hospitalized after a serious soccer injury and dies, forcing her to question a past that has haunted her for years.

Olga Grjasnowa has a unique gift for seeing the funny side of even the most tragic situations. With cool irony, her debut novel tells the story of a headstrong young woman for whom the issue of origin and nationality is immaterial—her Jewish background has taught her she can survive anywhere. Yet Masha isn’t equipped to deal with grief, and this all-too-normal shortcoming gives a particularly bittersweet quality to her adventures.


Looking for Palestine

From the Upper West Side to the Middle East: Najla Said on Her New Memoir, Looking for Palestine

Said grew up in the 1980s on the Upper West Side, eating bagels from Zabar’s and surrounded by intellectuals; she attended school across Central Park on the Upper East Side, at sea amid the blonde daughters of privilege. While her father and “temperamental soul mate,” the scholar Edward Said, was arguing for Palestinian self-determination (and her Lebanese mother, Mariam, was managing their daily life), young Najla was gripped by an eating disorder, struggling to reconcile TV news stereotypes of the Middle East with her own eye-opening experiences—including visits to her father’s homeland, where she toured refugee camps in an Agnès B. skirt—and to her mother’s family in Beirut, where she found a sense of belonging.