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All Quotes by author - Keith Gessen
" After Stalin died, the Soviet Union began inching toward the world again. The ban on jazz was lifted. Ernest Hemingway was published; the Pushkin Museum in Moscow hosted an exhibit of the works of Picasso. "
" All literature has this moral strain, but in Russian literature, it's particularly sharp. "
" Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan only since 1997, three years after Nazarbayev told a stunned parliament that a prosperous, independent country like Kazakhstan ought to have its capital 'in the center' of the country, rather than on the border. "
" Astana is a government city, not a tourist city, but all you do is tour it. You tour it in the cab from the airport, passing the gleaming new English-language Nazarbayev University and then the new soccer stadium, speed-skating track, and ten-thousand-seat velodrome. "
" Baba Seva - Seva Efraimovna Gekhtman - was born in a small town in Ukraine in 1919. Her father was an accountant at a textile factory, and her mother was a nurse. Her parents moved to Moscow with her and her brothers when she was a child. "
" Being a Russian oligarch these days isn't easy. The best and brightest of them are in exile or in jail; others, after feasting on leverage during the commodities boom, now have tummies full of debt. "
" Bilingualism used to have an undeservedly bad reputation; then it got an undeservedly exalted one. "
" Brodsky was born in May, 1940, a year before the German invasion. His mother worked as an accountant; his father was a photographer and worked for the Navy Museum in Leningrad when Brodsky was young. They were doting parents and much beloved by Iosif Brodsky, who was their only child. "
" During two decades, on and off, reporting in Russia and the post-Soviet states - in the turbulent '90s, the wealthy but depressing aughts and, finally, during the eruption of violence in Ukraine - I occasionally heard people talk about how 'the Americans' wanted this or that political outcome. "
" From the start of his administration, President Barack Obama had tried to lower tensions with Russia and refocus American attention on a rising China; he had made clear he wanted no part in the problems of the post-Soviet periphery. "
" I grew up in this household where reading was the most noble thing you could do. When I was a teenager, we would have family dinners where we all sat there reading. It wasn't because we didn't like each other. We just liked reading. The person who made my reading list until my late teen years was my mom. "
" I left the world of jail with plenty of relief but, more than anything, with a sense of unease that I still can't quite shake. "
" I met with an Automaidan activist who was part of a self-appointed group drafting a lustration law for parliament, which would exclude from political life people who actively participated in Yanukovych's criminal regime. "
" In 1939, Orwell wrote a long essay titled 'Inside the Whale,' about modernism, the nineteen-thirties, Henry Miller, and 'Tropic of Cancer.' "
" In 1959, Moscow gave space to an exhibition of American consumer goods, and my father, also a member of this generation, tasted Pepsi for the first time. "
" I no longer remember when I started speaking to Raffi in Russian. I didn't speak to him in Russian when he was in his mother's womb, though I've since learned that this is when babies first start recognizing sound patterns. "
" In the fall of 1963, in Leningrad, in what was then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the young poet Dmitry Bobyshev stole the young poet Joseph Brodsky's girlfriend. "
" In the post-Soviet era, the most interesting work on the Stalinist period has been social history, far beyond the Kremlin walls - the study of what one of its leading practitioners, Sheila Fitzpatrick, in her book 'Everyday Stalinism,' called 'ordinary life in extraordinary times.' "
" In truth, I was desperate to leave New York. And Moscow was a special place for me. It was the city where my parents had grown up, where they had met; it was the city where I was born. "
" I remember reading Dostoevsky's 'The Idiot' in my grandmother's Moscow apartment and feeling this call to be a better person. "
" I think that the basement where Orwell washed dishes in Paris was his first lesson in anti-humbug - and part of the lesson is that you have to keep renewing it. And Orwell did that. "
" I've travelled to some of the places where Russian language and Russian culture were made part of the fabric of life long before Lenin arrived at Finland Station - and where Russian is now being rolled back, post-1991. "
" Left Bank Astana was beautiful at night, each building, it seemed, with its own nighttime color scheme and the street lamps all going full blast. "
" My friend Leonid Shvets is a long-time journalist, commentator, and editor. He was born in Belarus and came to Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, to go to school, then moved to Kiev for work. "
" My grandmother was content to sit in the back yard wearing her old, wide-brimmed summer hat and occasionally getting up to feed herself raspberries from the seemingly inexhaustible bushes. "
" My parents and my brother and I left the Soviet Union in 1981. I was six, and Dima was sixteen, and that made all the difference. I became an American, whereas Dima remained essentially Russian. "
" My parents were attached to Russian culture by a thousand ineradicable ties. But they did not cut me off from American society, nor could they have. I assimilated wholeheartedly, found my parents in many ways embarrassing, and allowed my Russian to decline through neglect. "
" One of the best and most challenging books about Orwell is by the socialist literary critic Raymond Williams. As a critic - and, in some ways, as a figure, at least within the academy - Williams was what England had in the generation after Orwell, and toward the end of his life, he became more critical of his predecessor. "
" One of the most influential of the post-Soviet books was the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin's 'Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization' (1995), a study of the steel city of Magnitogorsk, the U.S.S.R.'s answer to Pittsburgh, as it was constructed in the shadow of the Ural Mountains in the early nineteen-thirties. "
" People who can't speak Russian will be less susceptible to Russian propaganda. But they will also be less susceptible to the poetry of Joseph Brodsky. "
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