Isolation has pretty much robbed me of the ability to tell one day from another–and that’s even with work-from-home. So, I’m nearly a week late with #6Degrees of Separation! This month we start with the book Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder. I even borrowed the book from the library to read or skim and STILL forgot! So, I’ll wing it. Pull in what I learned in college about East Germany, the Stasi, the USSR and the KGB, and even crazy Envir Hoxha in Albania.
The first book that came to mind was Picnic at the Iron Curtain: A Memoir by Susan Viets. The author was fortunate to be there when the Wall came down and to stick around and see the Ukraine Orange Revolution and all that came in between. This one shows the “before” and “after” of revolution.
Another book that came quickly to mind discussed similar experiences–life in a state that was friends with told Soviet Union and it’s Eastern Block of nations–Cuba. One of Cuba’s first blogger-reporters, Yoani Sachez tried to educate the world of the 2010s about the reality of the Cuban “dream.” Havana Real by Yoani Sanchez is a collection of blog posts on the insanity of life in Cuba today (circa 2011). She wants change–and isn’t afraid to work for it.
This led me to another story of island life–albeit British diplomat life in Trinidad in the 70. They now live with the politics of a post-colonial country struggling with home-grown aggressors. Go native? Go home? The usual struggles. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey.
Author Alexandra Fuller grew up to see the world of her childhood given away. Born to British parents who became Rhodesian settlers and who fought to keep Rhodesia for the elite–the white Rhodesians like themselves who had invested their lives and their life savings, she found later she didn’t belong anywhere–much like defectors from the USSR who craved artistic freedom, but found it came with a capitalist market and people who weren’t starved for the truth about their experience. This book links both countries that have undergone radical change and a former Eastern Block country–Hungary. Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller.
Another continent and more strife in a land formerly the playground of a tiny elite–the top brass of the USSR Communist Party. This novel wonderfully illustrates the changes between Stalin’s time (the Grandmother’s time) and today’s Russia of impossibly rich oligarchs and henchmen. A Terrible Country: A Novel by Keith Gessen.
My final book brings us back to Germany, albeit Germany of today, flooded with immigrants–mostly from Africa. This novel tells their stories. The changes in Germany from the repressive regime surrounding the city of Berlin, the inclusion or rejection of the new cultures brought in by illegal immigrants from countries German’s don’t understand–it’s all here. It brings us full-circle. Travelers: A Novel by Helon Habila.
Do you enjoy participating in book events like #6 Degrees of Separation? Read the rules HERE and post with us next month. Six Degrees is hosted by Books Are My Favorite and Best and it is a lot of fun to create a chain of books each month.