100 books like The Suitcase

By Sergei Dovlatov,

Here are 100 books that The Suitcase fans have personally recommended if you like The Suitcase. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation

Monica Black Author Of A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany

From my list on for historians who wish they were anthropologists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the things people do and the reasons they give for doing them. That people also do things in culturally specific ways and that their culturally specific ways of doing things are related to their culturally specific ideas about what makes sense and what does not inspires in me a sense of awe. As a professor and historian, thinking anthropologically has always been an important tool, because it helps me look for the hidden, cultural logics that guided the behavior of people in history. It helps me ask different questions. And it sharpens my sense of humility for the fundamental unknowability of this world we call home.

Monica's book list on for historians who wish they were anthropologists

Monica Black Why did Monica love this book?

Alexei Yurchak was part of the last Soviet generation—the last citizens born in the USSR who also lived through its collapse as adults. As the title suggests, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is a profound and poetic work about truth and what we come to accept as real. Yurchak wants to explain the paradox that, while Soviet people knew by the 1970s that their government was telling them almost nothing but untruths, they were still shocked to their core by their country’s demise. What I loved most about the book was Yurchak’s descriptions of ordinary life among his generation (their intriguing taste for the operatic qualities of metal, the elaborate public pranks they staged, the way they treated life like performance art). With pathos and humor in equal measure, Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More paints a brilliant portrait of a world that millions of…

By Alexei Yurchak,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise. Although these characteristics may appear mutually exclusive, in fact they were mutually constitutive. This book explores the paradoxes of Soviet life during the period of "late socialism" (1960s-1980s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation. Focusing on the major…


Book cover of Good Stalin

Daniel Treisman Author Of The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev

From my list on the Soviet Union under Brezhnev.

Why am I passionate about this?

Daniel Treisman is an expert on post-Soviet Russia, whose articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and CNN.com, among other publications. A professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, he is the founder of the Russia Political Insight project, an international collaboration to analyze Kremlin decision-making. He is the author of The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev and editor of The New Autocracy: Information, Politics, and Policy in Putin’s Russia.  

Daniel's book list on the Soviet Union under Brezhnev

Daniel Treisman Why did Daniel love this book?

The Brezhnev era was when the Soviet elite decided not to come to terms with Stalin. This “fictional” memoir by one of Russia’s most interesting living writers is a penetrating meditation on fathers and sons, set against the backdrop of post-War Moscow. Erofeyev senior was Stalin’s official French interpreter, a believer in world revolution, avid tennis player, and tender parent. Erofeyev junior was a literary enfant terrible, who, by helping edit an almanac of underground writing in 1979, ended his father’s diplomatic career. The book is a beautifully crafted window into the personal and political of late communism.

By Victor Erofeyev,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good Stalin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The novel Good Stalin is inspired by Erofeev's experience growing up amidst the Soviet political hierarchy. His father, a staunch Stalinist who has dedicated his life and soul to the party, begins as Stalin's personal interpreter, and rises rapidly to the top of the political ladder and into the leader's inner circle. The book reflects the family's prestigious - and yet precarious - position as members of the nomenklatura. In one memorable scene, the main character Victor recalls how he would walk past the Kremlin as a child and comment to friends, "that's where my father works - he and…


Book cover of Omon Ra

Daniel Treisman Author Of The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev

From my list on the Soviet Union under Brezhnev.

Why am I passionate about this?

Daniel Treisman is an expert on post-Soviet Russia, whose articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and CNN.com, among other publications. A professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, he is the founder of the Russia Political Insight project, an international collaboration to analyze Kremlin decision-making. He is the author of The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev and editor of The New Autocracy: Information, Politics, and Policy in Putin’s Russia.  

Daniel's book list on the Soviet Union under Brezhnev

Daniel Treisman Why did Daniel love this book?

Pelevin exploded onto the Russian literary scene in the 1990s, propelled by a postmodern sensibility and satirical flair. In his masterpiece, Omon Ra, the Soviet space program becomes a metaphor for all the lies and cant of post-War communism. The Politburo cannot admit it trails the US in rocket technology. So it trains naïve recruits to secretly pilot “unmanned” one-way space missions. In fact, it’s even stranger than that, but no spoilers here. Hilarious satire, while at the same time weirdly true to life. A tale of pimply youths and slogans, empty sacrifices, moon landings, and port wine guzzled in garages.

By Victor Pelevin, Andrew Bromfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Omon Ra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victor Pelevin's novel Omon Ra has been widely praised for its poetry and its wickedness, a novel in line with the great works of Gogol and Bulgakov: "full of the ridiculous and the sublime," says The Observer [London]. Omon is chosen to be trained in the Soviet space program the fulfillment of his lifelong dream. However, he enrolls only to encounter the terrifying absurdity of Soviet protocol and its backward technology: a bicycle-powered moonwalker; the outrageous Colonel Urgachin ("a kind of Sovier Dr. Strangelove"-The New York Times); and a one-way assignment to the moon. The New Yorker proclaimed: "Omon's adventure…


Book cover of The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov

Daniel Treisman Author Of The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev

From my list on the Soviet Union under Brezhnev.

Why am I passionate about this?

Daniel Treisman is an expert on post-Soviet Russia, whose articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and CNN.com, among other publications. A professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, he is the founder of the Russia Political Insight project, an international collaboration to analyze Kremlin decision-making. He is the author of The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev and editor of The New Autocracy: Information, Politics, and Policy in Putin’s Russia.  

Daniel's book list on the Soviet Union under Brezhnev

Daniel Treisman Why did Daniel love this book?

The emergence of a dissident movement and the KGB’s efforts to control it were one of the dramas of the Brezhnev era. What better way to read the history than through the agency’s reports on the period’s premier dissident? Andrei Sakharov, nuclear physicist and “Domestic Enemy Number One,” survived the mind games and isolation, emerging to lead the campaign for memory in the late 1980s as Gorbachev loosened up. The book is fascinating on the fumbling efforts of Politburo gerontocrats, who often seem confused and outplayed, as well as on the circumlocutions and ideological distortions of a security agency determined to blur the true character of its operations.  

By Alexander Gribanov, Joshua Rubenstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989), a brilliant physicist and the principal designer of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, later became a human rights activist and-as a result-a source of profound irritation to the Kremlin. This book publishes for the first time ever KGB files on Sakharov that became available during Boris Yeltsin's presidency. The documents reveal the untold story of KGB surveillance of Sakharov from 1968 until his death in 1989 and of the regime's efforts to intimidate and silence him. The disturbing archival materials show the KGB to have had a profound lack of understanding of the spiritual and moral nature of…


Book cover of The Orchard

Alina Adams Author Of My Mother's Secret: A Novel of the Jewish Autonomous Region

From my list on Soviet historical fiction which skips the cliches.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Odessa, USSR, a Southern Ukrainian city that many more people know now than when my family and I immigrated in 1977. Growing up in the US, everything I read about Soviet immigrants was either cliched, stereotyped, or plain wrong. A 1985 short film, Molly’s Pilgrim, about a (presumably Jewish) Soviet immigrant girl showed her wearing a native peasant costume and a scarf on her head which, for some reason, Americans insisted on calling a “babushka.” “Babushka” means “grandmother” in Russian. Why would you wear one of those on your head? I was desperate for more realistic portrayals. So I wrote my own. And the five books I picked definitely offer them.

Alina's book list on Soviet historical fiction which skips the cliches

Alina Adams Why did Alina love this book?

Mariza Kuznetsova (Something Unbelievable), Irina Reyn (Mother Country), and I all left the Soviet Union as children, before Putin and before all the changes he brought. Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry came of age in the new Russia. The Orchard is a tale of what our own lives might have been if our families had stayed. This loose retelling of Chekov zeroes in on how a childhood begun in the USSR and a young adulthood lived in Russia affected everyone who went through it, how it shaped worldviews, and how it continues to resonate even after decades of immigrant life in America.

By Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Orchard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Four teenagers grow inseparable in the last days of the Soviet Union—but not all of them will live to see the new world arrive in this powerful debut novel, loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

“Spectacular . . . intensely evocative and gorgeously written . . . will fill readers’ eyes with tears and wonder.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

Coming of age in the USSR in the 1980s, best friends Anya and Milka try to envision a free and joyful future for themselves. They spend their summers at Anya’s dacha just outside of Moscow, lazing in the apple orchard, listening…


Book cover of Letters from Rifka

Berlie W. Doherty Author Of The Girl Who Saw Lions

From my list on children’s books about refugees and asylum seekers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My maternal great-grandparents were Irish immigrants. My paternal grandfather left Liverpool in the late 19th century to go to Australia. I’d love to know their children’s stories! Some of the families I visited as a social worker (mid-1960s) were immigrants, struggling to make sense of a new language and a new culture. I met a child who had come here alone as an illegal immigrant and had been a house slave until the social services settled her with a foster family. I met author Hanna Jansen and her many adopted children from war-torn countries. Fiction gives us many powerful stories about children forced to flee from their homes because of war, tyranny, hunger, poverty, natural disasters.

Berlie's book list on children’s books about refugees and asylum seekers

Berlie W. Doherty Why did Berlie love this book?

Letters from Rifka is immediately appealing because the author tells us that it is based on memories.

I was immediately drawn into the story by the engaging voice of the 12-year-old narrator, who writes her story in letter form. Rifka is a Russian Jew fleeing with her family from persecution in 1919. It is a story of a desperate flight, across Ukraine and into Poland, and from there, hopefully, to America. But, so close to freedom, Rifka is detained in a hospital for contagious diseases on Ellis Island, and may not be allowed to travel on with her family. Rifka’s character is so well drawn, her impish, positive voice so lovable, that MG readers won’t fail to love this book and care deeply about the plight of people who are forced to leave their homes forever.

By Karen Hesse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters from Rifka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

From Newbery media winner Karen Hesse comes an unforgettable story of an immigrant family's journey to America.

"America," the girl repeated. "What will you do there?"
I was silent for a little time.
"I will do everything there," I answered.

Rifka knows nothing about America when she flees from Russia with her family in 1919. But she dreams that in the new country she will at last be safe from the Russian soldiers and their harsh treatment of the Jews. Throughout her journey, Rifka carries with her a cherished volume of poetry by Alexander Pushkin. In it, she records her…


Book cover of Unsettled

Cordelia Jensen Author Of Every Shiny Thing

From my list on middle grade verse published in 2021.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written three verse novels; two YA, Skyscraping and The Way the Light Bends, and one half-verse, half-prose MG Every Shiny Thing (co-authored with Laurie Morrison.) I teach verse novel specific classes for The Highlights Foundation and The Writing Barn, on topics like plotting verse novels, creating an image system in verse novels, revising verse novels. I also edit verse novel manuscripts, working with one private student per month. Along with this, I’ve taught a Writing for Children class at Bryn Mawr College. Presently, I teach kids and teens through the Kelly Yang Project and run a local, kids’ literary journal here in Philadelphia called the Mt. Airy Musers. 

Cordelia's book list on middle grade verse published in 2021

Cordelia Jensen Why did Cordelia love this book?

Unsettled by Reem Faruqi, loosely based on the author’s own story, chronicles the experience of Nurah, a thirteen-year-old girl who moves from Pakistan to Georgia. She experiences racism and prejudice in a variety of forms, she makes new friends, discovers new passions, undergoes loss, and learns to adjust to a vastly different place. Many verse novels tell stories of immigration, but this one stands for its consistent lyricism and its honest, moving portrayal of a coming-of-age experience that is at once specific and universal. 

By Reem Faruqi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Unsettled as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year · Kid's Indie Next List · Featured in Today Show’s AAPI Heritage Month list · A Kirkus Children's Best Book of 2021 · A National Council of Teachers of English Notable Verse Novel · Jane Addams 2022 Children’s Book Award Finalist · 2021 Nerdy Award Winner · Muslim Bookstagram Award Winner for Best Middle School Book

For fans of Other Words for Home and Front Desk, this powerful, charming immigration story follows a girl who moves from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, and must find her footing in a new…


Book cover of The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean

Sumanto Al Qurtuby Author Of Saudi Arabia and Indonesian Networks: Migration, Education, and Islam

From my list on Islam, travel, and travelers in Arabia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American-trained Indonesian anthropologist, teacher, writer, researcher, and academic nomad who has lived and taught at a Saudi university. I have travelled since childhood. When I was a kid or teenager, I journeyed to various places and cities for schooling away from my home village (and parents) in the isolated highlands of Central Java. I also travelled for shepherding my goats which I did after school. So, I love to travel, learn many things from my travel, and as a teacher of Anthropology of Travel, I have always been fascinated by literature on travel whatever its forms ranging from pilgrimage and nomadism to migration and tourism.   

Sumanto's book list on Islam, travel, and travelers in Arabia

Sumanto Al Qurtuby Why did Sumanto love this book?

This book studies the historical dynamics of the Hadrami Yemeni diaspora in Arabia, India, and Southeast Asia. The Hadramis, especially progenies of Prophet Muhammad, have settled in these three regions for centuries but academic work that discusses the origins of their presence and transnational movement across the Indian Ocean is extremely rare. Professor Ho is a brilliant anthropologist and historian. I, in particular, like the ways he vividly utilizes and interprets various sources–biographies, family histories, chronicles, pilgrimage manuals, and religious law – to reconstruct the history of the diasporic Hadrami community from Arabia to Southeast Asia. 

By Engseng Ho,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Graves of Tarim as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Graves of Tarim" narrates the movement of an old diaspora across the Indian Ocean over the past five hundred years. Ranging from Arabia to India and Southeast Asia, Engseng Ho explores the transcultural exchanges - in kinship and writing - that enabled Hadrami Yemeni descendants of the Muslim prophet Muhammad to become locals in each of the three regions, yet remain cosmopolitans with vital connections across the ocean. At home throughout the Indian Ocean, diasporic Hadramis engaged European empires in surprising ways across its breadth, beyond the usual territorial confines of colonizer and colonized. A work of both anthropology…


Book cover of Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño

Jada Benn Torres and  Gabriel A. Torres Colón Author Of Genetic Ancestry: Our Stories, Our Pasts

From my list on what happens when biology and culture collide.

Why are we passionate about this?

We met as “baby anthropologists” in graduate school and have stuck together ever since. With Jada’s training in genetic anthropology and Gabriel’s training in cultural anthropology, we’ve accompanied each other to our various field sites throughout the Caribbean, Spain, and the US Midwest. Aside from our book, each of us has authored many peer-reviewed publications, including an award-winning article in the journal Human Biology. Though we both have our own independent research agendas, our interests overlap on several topics including genetic ancestry. Our different anthropological training and our mutual love for our discipline always makes for interesting perspectives on a variety of topics.

Jada's book list on what happens when biology and culture collide

Jada Benn Torres and  Gabriel A. Torres Colón Why did Jada love this book?

Alex Chávez is a cultural anthropologist, but he is also a musician, and his artistic abilities are on full display in this beautifully narrated and analytically sharp ethnography of huapango arribeño across the US-Mexican social spaces. Chávez allows us to reimagine Mexican migrants as much more than the protagonists of the social problem of migration. Instead, we can see how expressive culture is a significant aspect of migrant lives. This book is also a theoretical heavyweight for those looking for more than a beautifully crafted ethnographic description.

By Alex E. Chavez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sounds of Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Sounds of Crossing Alex E. Chavez explores the contemporary politics of Mexican migrant cultural expression manifest in the sounds and poetics of huapango arribeno, a musical genre originating from north-central Mexico. Following the resonance of huapango's improvisational performance within the lives of audiences, musicians, and himself-from New Year's festivities in the highlands of Guanajuato, Mexico, to backyard get-togethers along the back roads of central Texas-Chavez shows how Mexicans living on both sides of the border use expressive culture to construct meaningful communities amid the United States' often vitriolic immigration politics. Through Chavez's writing, we gain an intimate look at…


Book cover of Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration

Ilya Somin Author Of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom

From my list on migration rights and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ilya Somin is a Professor of Law at George Mason University. He is the author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London, and the Limits of Eminent Domain. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and USA Today. He is a regular contributor to the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, affiliated with Reason.

Ilya's book list on migration rights and democracy

Ilya Somin Why did Ilya love this book?

I don’t agree with most of this book. But nonetheless it's a must-read for anyone who wants a great overview and defense of standard arguments to the effect that nation-state governments should enjoy broad power to exclude potential migrants. Miller puts the case well, and it’s easily grasped by experts and laypeople alike.

By David Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strangers in Our Midst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How should Western democracies respond to the many millions of people who want to settle in their societies? Economists and human rights advocates tend to downplay the considerable cultural and demographic impact of immigration on host societies. Seeking to balance the rights of immigrants with the legitimate concerns of citizens, Strangers in Our Midst brings a bracing dose of realism to this debate. David Miller defends the right of democratic states to control their borders and decide upon the future size, shape, and cultural make-up of their populations.

"A cool dissection of some of the main moral issues surrounding immigration…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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