Giving Heat To Cold Nights
We’ll err tomorrow, but prayed on the eve,
Does it mean we play? No way! We live.
Mariam Yuzefovskaya reads with passion to the Russian-speaking audience. Tribune Photo by Douglas Gattuso
By Douglas Gattuso
From the unfeeling name of the bookstore, Russian Bookstore No.21, located in Gramercy Park, one could think the Cold War was still going on and the place was part of an archaic order by the Kremlin to keep track of books.
But as mundane as the name sounds, the passion swelled this past Saturday from the attendees of author Mariam Yuzefovskaya’s reading from her new book “Besa Me Mucho,” a romance novel, which she read from as part of the celebration of New York City’s Immigrant History Week.
“Is there any money in writing this book? No. Is there any prestige? No. This book is a ‘podvig’, which means a ‘heroic deed’,” said Emil Draister a Professor of Russian at Hunter College who gave the introduction to Yuzefovskaya’s reading.
The romance is about the evolution of two immigrants under the context of the collapse of the system of the Soviet Union and the forced emigration to the United States. The book reading was done mostly in Russian but luckily, Bronya, a woman from Brooklyn who didn’t want to give her last name because “its too long to write down,” was more than happy to interpret at breaks.
“Russian romance is the best. It’s something that grows inside you,” she said fighting back tears.
Yuzefovskaya, 64, was an engineer in Belarus before moving here in 1996 when “everyone was laid off.”
“Here in the USA you have materialism. Russia is a romantic country. We have friends,” she said with a heavy heart.
Throughout the reading Russian romance songs were sung by a duet and at one point a stereo played a popular song in Russia, “One Step Forward, Two Steps back,” a satire of Lenin’s book on history of the same title.
The daughter of a military man in Russia, Yuzefovskaya now works as an electronics technician and analyst and lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “Being an analyst has helped me a great deal as a writer. And being a writer has helped me as an analyst.” A lot of her writing comes to her during her commute and during breaks.
Her published works date back to 1987 and include short stories and poems and she has received such awards as the East-European Jewry Association Award and “Best Love Romance” from the Moscow Publishing House Gelios. Her literary work has been studied in Germany by several universities. “Besa Me Mucho” so far is published only in Russian.
“I am looking for an American literary agent,” said Yuzefovskaya.
She can be contacted at email@example.com.