Lisa Dickey traveled across the whole of Russia three times—in 1995, 2005 and 2015—making friends in eleven different cities, then coming back again and again to see how their lives had changed. Like the acclaimed British documentary series Seven Up!, she traces the ups and downs of ordinary people’s lives, in the process painting a deeply nuanced portrait of modern Russia.
From the caretakers of a lighthouse in Vladivostok, to the Jewish community of Birobidzhan, to a farmer in Buryatia, to a group of gay friends in Novosibirsk, to a wealthy “New Russian” family in Chelyabinsk, to a rap star in Moscow, Dickey profiles a wide cross-section of people in one of the most fascinating, dynamic and important countries on Earth. Along the way, she explores dramatic changes in everything from technology to social norms, drinks copious amounts of vodka, and learns firsthand how the Russians really feel about Vladimir Putin.~Goodreads Blurb
1995, 2005, 2015, not overly noted years and yet throughout this travel novel the sheer growth and contrast is well noted. Through little tech to the wonders of the modern age, Author Lisa Dickey takes her readers through a side of Russia that the Western World rarely gets to see. Without creating caricatures of the Russian people, we are taken from the far eastern coast through several off beaten towns, meeting people and learning their stories. With 20 years, and 3 trips to draw from, there are a plethora of stories from which Dickey could choose from. She seems to have chosen not only the ones which make her readers laugh but also ones that have personal meaning to her. Without alienating her readers, she blends together her life and the lives she’s capturing through stories and photos, to give us as honest a view as she can.
Lisa Dickey’s latest piece left me with a warm feeling. Similar to watch families greet each other at an airport during the holidays, or seeing people return home after a long tour in the military, I found myself smiling along as I read. Even with the ongoing feelings of discontent that spread during this election, towards our own government and our relationship with Russia, this book left me with a reminder that countries are made up of more than just their heads of state. Not to be cliche, but it showed that Russians are people too. We have so many stereotypes about each other from bears roaming the streets of Russia, to the typical loud uncouth American, it’s nice to see things from another view. It leaves me wondering if things would go better if we could solve all problems with a good meal and some homemade liquor. I would recommend this to people who enjoy travel and food books, an interest in Russia wouldn’t hurt but is not a requirement. I would have to recommend more bears next time as none showed up until 61% but then again I’m just an American looking for Bears in the Streets of Russia.
*This eBook was provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for honest feedback*
Lisa Dickey, author of Bears in the Streets (January 2017, St. Martin's Press), is a a longtime author and book collaborator. She has helped clients write 17 published nonfiction books, including eight New York Times Best Sellers.
Lisa began her writing career in 1994 in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she wrote articles for The Moscow Times, Russian Life magazine and USA Today. Upon returning to the United States in late 1996, she worked with then-Washington Post reporter Kara Swisher on her first book, AOL.COM. From that initial collaboration, she launched a career as a ghostwriter and book doctor.
Over the next two decades, Lisa worked with high-profile clients such as Patrick Swayze, Gavin Newsom, Cissy Houston, Herbie Hancock, Cathie Black, and Whitewater partner Susan McDougal. Her collaborations have spanned a vast array of topics, from politics to business to entertainment to international relations.