A debut novel by Yelena Akhtiorskaya puts a fresh, comic spin on the age-old coming to America story. Her novel is called Panic in a Suitcase and Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review:
I can’t tell you the names of my great-grandparents, left behind in Poland and Ireland, because nobody ever mentioned them. The break was that final.
These days of course, it’s different. Within the space of a few hours, people can fly across oceans; through skyping and e-mail, they can electronically commute between Old World and New. Three cheers for The March of Progress, right? Except, if you want to make a definitive break how can you when the Old World is always calling you on the phone, texting, and crashing on your living room couch for extended visits? That’s the crucial question Yelena Akhtiorskaya mulls over in her sharply observed and very funny debut novel, Panic in a Suitcase. Akhtiorskaya, who was born in Odessa and emigrated to the Russian immigrant enclave of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn at the age of seven, writes of the fictional Nasmertov family, whose move from Old World to New imitates her own.