Through a unique combination of biography, memoir, and autobiography, Cherie Smith traces four generations of her immigrant family and, in doing so, charts the very course of Russian-Jewish immigration to the Canadian prairies over the last one hundred years. The story begins in the shtetles of Poland and Latvia in the 1890s and follows an often wild and woolly assortment of relatives as they strive to become Canadians. Meet Great-Grandfather Mendel, the dairyman, who started it all by siring five sons and four daughters; Robert and Sarah, who are conned out of their tickets to gold-rushing San Francisco and stranded in Winnipeg; Iser, a boy of 14, who is inspired to leave Russia after reading The Last of the Mohicans; Maxwell, the rum-runner; Jake, the quintessential schlemiel; and Morris, with his ever-diminishing thumb; Big Bessie and Ida, the battling aunts who fight to the death in their own private strudel war; Solomon, the Gentle, and gutsy Etza, caught up in war, revolution, and exile; and finally, the long-lost Margarita, who leaves the Soviet Union in 1990 to make a new life for herself and her children in Vancouver.
The late Cherie Smith was born in Saskatchewan and graduated from the University of British Columbia. A founding member of UBC's Prismmagazine, she was an editor with November House for several years.
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