Julia Alekseyeva's Critical Reads

November 3rd, 2017

Born in the former USSR and raised a proud citizen of Chicago, Julia Alekseyeva is an author-illustrator as well as an academic. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard, and currently teaches in the Film Department at Brooklyn College. Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution is her first full-length graphic novel. She has lived in Kiev, Chicago, New York City, Paris, Cambridge, Kanazawa, and Yokohama, and currently lives in Brooklyn with her partner. Julia will discuss Soviet Daughter on Friday, 11/10, 6pm at the Co-op.


The Bedbug and Selected Poetry, by Vladimir Mayakovsky - My great-grandmother's favorite poet, and my own erstwhile obsession. This is probably the best translated version I could find, and has a stunning selection of his poetry. Haunting and extraordinarily powerful.

Little Failure, by Gary Shteyngart (2014) - The inimitable Shteyngart's memoir about his Soviet childhood, immigration, and being a "failurochka" (little failure) in NYC.

Illuminations, by Walter Benjamin - The philosophy of Walter Benjamin still has so much to teach us about modernity, even now. Every essay is sublime in its own way, from "Moscow" to "Hashish in Marseilles" to the "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility".

Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, by Hillary Chute (2010) - An incredibly insightful and thoughtful look at a wide variety of fantastic women cartoonists.

Showa: A History of Japan series, by Mizuki Shigeru - Divided into four volumes, this masterpiece describes the Showa period, perhaps the most controversial and misunderstood eras in the history of Japan (from 1926 to 1989). Given that the manga-artist is also a vet of the Imperial Army, it is also not lacking in great autobiographical/memoir detail.

The Future of Nostalgia, by Svetlana Boym (2001) - One of the most readable academic texts in recent memory, the late Slavic and Comparative Literature Scholar Svetlana Boym researches the root of nostalgia, and defines two types: reflective and restorative nostalgia.

We Are On Our Own, by Miriam Katin (2006). A beautifully hand-crafted, and extremely tender, memoir about survival during WWII.