The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
by Eugene Yelchin Narrated by the author
Yelchin pulls back the Iron Curtain, offering a glimpse of life for Jews living in 1970's Russia. Six-year-old Yevgeny lives with his parents, older brother Victor, and grandmother, eking out a meager life in a communal apartment. His poetry-loving father, mother whose ballet dreams were denied, and competitive figure skating sibling are described in charming detail.
Living conditions are so cramped that the only place for the boy to sleep is under the table. He secretly swipes his father’s only pencil to draw on the table’s underside.
Short chapters offer poignant snapshots into a bizarre world that glorifies the mummified body of Lenin, requires citizens to earn a stamped coupon to purchase a book, and causes family members to remove all images of grandfather from the family’s photo album.
The memoir is more than a recount of life in Russia. The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain is an exploration of art that breaks rules, exposes truth, and yearns for freedom. It is also a story of the love within a family that expands beyond a cramped one room communal space.
Yelchin’s considerable talents as a storyteller, illustrator, and narrator make this slim volume an education and a delight. Yevgeny's “artistic talent” will fascinate readers.