Boris Fishman

News & Press


  • Boris was a guest on the Quarantine Island Discs podcast and Beth Schenker’s excellent food podcast The Big Schmear.
  • The New York Times singles out Savage Feast in its Paperback Row.
  • Boris is part of the Thanksgiving round-up on the Milk Street Radio site and podcast.
  • An interview with Neil Haley in advance of the Miami Book Fair.
  • Boris’ essay “My Secret Pepsi Plot,” from The New York Times Magazine, is a New York Times Mentor Text in personal-essay writing for students.
  • Can A Recipe Save Your Life? A lovely, astute review from Public Books, alongside memoirs by Ruth Reichl and Kwame Onwuachi.
  • Christopher Kimball runs not only Cook’s Illustrated, but the equally excellent and varied Milk Street Radio. Boris recently visited his podcast (24:00 – 38:00).
  • Boris is quoted in a Washington Post Magazine piece about the Russian version of that echt-American staple, the hamburger: “Has a single, instantaneous kitchen maneuver ever accounted for more distance between two places, two selves? I’m talking about the patty-flattening that turns a kotleta (humped, sturdy, as Soviet as living with Grandma) into a hamburger (backyards, ballgames, Amurka). Eating a burger (with my hands), I feel diffusely American, a little coarse, faddish. But eating a kotleta (with knife and fork), I feel … like that grandmother’s grandson.”
  • Along with dozens of immigrant/refugee authors, Boris has signed a letter, published in The Nation, urging Congress to improve migrant detention conditions.
  • If this conversation on the Virtual Memories podcast with Gil Roth were a food, it would be a tenderloin — red meat, in every sense, and yet, as lean as the very sweet greyhound Bendico (after Lampedusa), who listened to the entire thing without stirring from the armchair once.
  • David Leite (“The New Portuguese Table”) is a food impresario extraordinaire. Marion Roach Smith is a former Times editor, master nonfictionist, radio commentator, and much else. Together, they host a new podcast “by, about and for writers,” and even though there’s a serial comma criminally missing in their self-description, they conduct a dream interview. Boris had the honor of being their inaugural subject. (Transcript of the interview available here. H/t Marion Roach Smith.) Also, check out this excerpt from “Savage Feast,” along with audio clip and photos, on David’s site Leite’s Culinaria.
  • “I prefer to experience writers through their books. In real life, they are rarely who you thought they would be. And why should they be?” A Q+A with Boris on the eve of his appearance as part of House of SpeakEasy’s “Seriously Entertaining” series at Joe’s Pub.
  • “Author Boris Fishman… narrates this buoyant, revealing, and socially conscious family memoir, which includes many, many recipes. His resonant baritone is easy to enjoy; one notices his kind and relatable tone and judicious pace… Throughout, Fishman’s narration style remains consistent whether he’s describing the funniest or the most awful of family circumstances or experiences. Lucid and controlled in both the writing and narration, this work makes for appetite-whetting listening. Happily, a PDF of the recipes is conveniently provided.” AudioFile Magazine on Boris’ narration of Savage Feast.
  • “I’ve been reading every food memoir available, including those by Anthony Bourdain, Gabrielle Hamilton, Ruth Reichl, Michael Pollan, Samin Nosrat, Michael Twitty, and now Boris Fishman. His is the most focused and most multilayered of these wonderful books.” Bam! The Philadelphia Inquirer on Savage Feast.
  • “Mr. Fishman’s story — as a refugee, a seeker and an insatiable eater — is inherently compelling. But the book’s brilliance lies in the author’s self-awareness and honest appraisal of his, and his family’s shortcomings. He writes from the perspective of someone who learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable in his own skin — someone with no secrets left to keep”: The Wall Street Journal on Savage Feast.
  • “Don’t let all the delicious recipes in Boris Fishman‘s new memoir fool you. ‘Savage Feast’ isn’t really about food. It’s about hunger — physical and emotional — and the intergenerational trauma it can inflict on a family”: The Times of Israel on the new book.
  • “Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the list of great recipe-plus books—memoir/novel-plus-recipes; recipes-plus-personal essays—is long and rich… And then there are the stories by writers-first-cooks-second that are just particularly well-illustrated through food”: Vanity Fair singles out Savage Feast.
  • In a rave in The Washington Post, Michael Dirda singles out one of Boris’s favorite paragraphs in Savage Feast as an example of the book’s “mouthwatering… descriptions of even the simplest meals.”
  • The New York Times Book Review on Savage Feast.
  • “From Minsk to Midwood, A Moveable Feast”: The Jewish Week on Savage Feast.
  • The Jerusalem Post calls Savage Feast “extraordinary.”
  • A wonderfully long, thoughtful conversation with Alison Stewart on NPR’s “All of It.”
  • A true publication-day present: Savage Feast is the #1 Best Seller in Culinary Biographies and Memoirs on Amazon.
  • Boris talks about Savage Feast on NPR’s Morning Edition! (Transcript here.)
  • In The New York Times, Florence Fabricant calls Savage Feast “a tightly-written page-turner.”
  • Boris has an essay in Saveur about his favorite recipe in Savage Feast, along with some very beautiful photos of the dish.
  • ‘Cooking Up A Story’: A profile in The New Jersey Jewish News.
  • “Fishman’s writing is brisk and vivid, and despite generations’ worth of trauma the family suffered, from pervasive anti-Semitism to the brutalities of World War II, his memoir is often funny… This book departs from other memoirs: Most chapters end with detailed recipes, adding a lovely, homey dimension.”: A review of Savage Feast in BookPage.
  • The Jewish News of Northern California on Savage Feast.
  • “Tonight, as a reward for finishing this piece, I plan to make Oksana’s borsch, substituting celery root for parsnips, since that’s what I found at the store. I can already tell you, in other words, that I won’t follow the recipe. As Savage Feast renders in such beautiful terms, none of us do: It’s as subject to revision as we are.”: Paste Magazine on Savage Feast.
  • In her reviews of Boris’ novels, Talya Zax always singles out the quotes Boris himself would have chosen…
  • An excerpt in LitHub
  • And another in Tablet (with a recipe, natch).
  • A Q+A with Deborah Kalb.
  • “Fishman skillfully avoids portraying Oksana, who has played a critical role in his life, as a matronly, obliging caregiver who exists for the purpose of serving his family. He depicts her with obvious affection and sensitivity, but also with some distance, perhaps as an acknowledgment of his lack of access to the inner life of a female migrant”: The Los Angeles Review of Books on Savage Feast.
  • Savage Feast is the Editors’ Pick in Biographies and Memoirs on BookBub.
  • Boris answers some questions for LitHub.
  • Incredible words for Savage Feast — a “delightfully understated, ambrosial pleasure of a memoir… Countless readers will remember… Boris Fishman’s family” — from BookBrowse: “I adore authors who not only write about the big themes that possess them, but also drop little things in between that bloom in our minds – like those colorful capsules that become spongy dinosaurs after you toss them in water. Boris Fishman’s expansive memoir, Savage Feast, works much the same way… It’s about the descriptions of those foods, not the way food is usually described, like a siren song, but more like a kind of workaday poetry that seems so right we wonder why we haven’t thought about food in that way before.”
  • An interview with the Forward, and a recipe, too.
  • Savage Feast is featured in a San Francisco Chronicle list of noteworthy opening sentences. (“The door of the sleeper sailed open, breaking the tu-tum-tu-tum of the wheels on the track, the medical blue of the overhead light panels dispelling the secretive blue of night on a train.”)
  • Savage Feast is one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month!
  • “Funny yet moving… this beautifully written memoir is a wonderful story about family, love, and connecting with your roots,” Library Journal says.
  • An astute, generous read from Katie Weed at Shelf Awareness: “It’s easy to feel at home in Fishman’s writing; it’s warm, reflective and frequently funny… Even more than a story of hunger, this is a story of love. Love of family and companionship. Love of romance and lore. Love of garlic, fish and the feeling of finally learning to identify and satisfy the simple but crucial loves for which everyone hungers… This rich, memorable exploration of immigrant identity, culture clash and Soviet cuisine will linger long after the book has been closed or the last of the dishes within have been served.”
  • Savage Feast is the Featured Book in the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
  • Savage Feast is a Winter 2019 Must-Read Nonfiction pick at Bookish.
  • “Central to Fishman’s insightful, absorbing memoir is hunger,” Kirkus Reviews says in a starred review. “The trauma of cultural loss, shared by many immigrants, was assuaged by his grandfather’s home health aide, whose recipes for potato latkes, stuffed cabbage, braised rabbit, liver pie, and scores more make the memoir a succulent treat… A graceful memoir recounting a family’s stories with candor and sensitivity.”
  • “This delightful, recipe-filled memoir from novelist Fishman follows his Jewish family—and their richly-described dinner tables—across three generations, from 1945 Belarus to 2017 Brooklyn,” Publishers Weekly says of Savage Feast. “Fishman’s immigrant saga masterfully evokes a family that survives, united by food…There’s a large web of characters and anecdotes, but Fishman grounds the narrative with his witty prose and well-translated family recipes.”

  • If you’re curious how the writing gets done, sometimes Glacier National Park and the bathroom paper-towel dispenser are involved. Boris introduces Electric Literature’s excerpt from Dina Nayeri’s “Refuge,” a novel as incisive as it is poignant about Iran, families genetic and inherited, immigration, and so much more.
  • A certain Boriss Fišmens is on Latvia’s version of NPR.
  • Rodeo, just out in paperback, is a “Paperback Row” selection in The New York Times Book Review.
  • The New York Times has just named Rodeo one of the 100 best books of 2016.
  • The Boston Globe asked me and several others to pick two books that explain Russia. At least a little.
  • Boris talks with Martha Frankel of Woodstock’s Booktalk Radio (Episode 129).
  • A rave for the newly-released paperback from Paperback Paris.
  • An interview with Adam Vitcavage of Writer’s Bone.
  • In advance of November 17th’s talk at the Kaplen JCC in Tenafly, a profile in The New Jersey Jewish Standard.
  • They don’t make them like this any more: A smart, perceptive, hour-long (!) conversation about Rodeo on WNHH (New Haven)’s Book Talk, hosted by the great Cyd Oppenheimer. First a discussion of the book with Boris, then a round-table with two other readers.
  • In October, 2016, Boris traveled to Estonia and Latvia on behalf of the U.S. State Department to discuss “A Replacement Life,” and the creative life (in America), with Russian-speaking minorities in the capitals and near the border with Russia. Some of the press highlights.
  • Just in time for Boris’ move there, Brooklyn has issued a warm welcome: Rodeo is on the longlist — now the shortlist! — for the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize!
  • A wonderfully in-depth and far-ranging interview with Mike Matesich of the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, where Boris is reading on Sunday, October 2. (See Readings.).
  • In advance of a reading at NYU, a great talk with Rachel A. G. Gilman of “The Write Stuff” on WNYU.
  • A lovely interview with Boris’ British editor. Foyles Bookstore in London was kind enough to reprint.
  • Who doesn’t like his novel being called stunning?
  • Rodeo is a Spring Reading Pick at the Times of Israel.
  • Rodeo is an Editors’ Choice selection in The New York Times Book Review.
  • Huge rave from Cathleen Schine in The New York Times Book Review, which calls Boris a “tender, dolorous, sharp and funny writer” and “a joy to read.”
  • The Christian Science Monitor with words of praise for “Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo.”
  • BookPage, which chose Rodeo as its Book of the Day, and called it a novel of “unexpected force” (see below), asked Boris to talk about what he’s reading. Here’s the best book he read last year.
  • An exceedingly intelligent and well-written profile of, and engagement with the ideas behind, Rodeo in the Forward by Talya Zax. Too rare such criticism these days.
  • Rodeo is one of 18 Dazzling Books for Spring on the Oprah web site.
  • A profile in the New Jersey Jewish News.
  • What’s the literary equivalent of a no-hitter? Rodeo is racking up raves on every stop of its March tour of book blogs.
  • Write-ups in English Kills Review and the New York Journal of Books.
  • Interviews!

    A return to WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show for another great, meaty conversation.

    The Cyrus Webb Show (Mississippi).

    In advance of the March 15 reading at the Free Library of Philadelphia with Howard Jacobson, The Avid Reader (Philadelphia).

    Another lovely talk with Deborah Kalb.

  • The Boston Jewish Advocate says: “This is a novel that will stay with you for a very long time and not just because of the plot. Fishman’s prose is gorgeous, the characters are well developed and the plot is totally amazing.”
  • A starred review in Shelf Awareness: “With graceful control and assurance, Fishman turns Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo into a layered story of identity and the challenges of weaving our many differences into compassionate bonds. So many things can drive a family apart; it’s a wonder that Alex, Maya and Max (or any of us) can hold it together. Immigration and adoption are not for wimps. Writing well about them is a true art. Fishman is very much up to the task–heartbreak, headaches, happiness and all.”
  • NPR with a rave for Rodeo!
  • While a novel without a thoughtful reviewer, positive or negative, is not quite like the falling tree in the woods without someone to hear it, criticism is an art, and an art that begs for more than plot summary. It’s so gratifying to come across that kind of engagement with your work. And then if it’s positive, too…

    San Francisco Chronicle: “[Fishman’s] second novel is a fresh, unpredictable departure from his first. Max may or may not do rodeo, but from now on expect Boris Fishman to do anything.”

    Chicago Tribune: “An eloquent and uncynical tale of how far people must travel to find out what they truly want and who they truly are.”

  • O, the Oprah Magazine gives Rodeo a thumbs-up in the March issue!
  • A profile of the novel in the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
  • BookPage offers a perceptive review of a “perceptive” novel: “Fishman patiently uncovers the tensions embedded in the Rubins’ relationship that intensify Maya’s restlessness. Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo… is a ruminative story about the often fragile bonds of family. Even the most comfortable parents and children may someday confront a crisis as unsettling as the one that afflicts the Rubins, a truth that allows this novel to resonate with unexpected force.”
  • Rodeo is among the “Winter Reads Authors Are Loving” on BookSparks.
  • Publishers Weekly has a rave for Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo: “The novel, which seems at first like a road trip story, transforms into a sensitive and surprisingly adventurous exploration of one woman’s wonder and suffering.”
  • Kirkus Reviews doesn’t love everything about Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo, which makes the “plot twist that gives the closing chapters their gravitas… feel almost like a magic trick.” The verdict: “Fishman smartly observes that the assimilation novel and road-trip novel make good partners. Both, after all, are about finding freedom. A comic novel about parenting infused with emotional intelligence.”
  • Boris’ Holiday Reading recommendations in the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
  • A conversation with Elizabeth Stark and Angie Powers of the Story Makers podcast, aka the Stark & Powers Drama Hour.
  • Off the Shelf selects A Replacement Life as one of its “15 Remarkable Stories to Celebrate Jewish Book Month.”
  • A lecture about plot for the University of Iowa’s Distance Learning Program.
  • Publishers Marketplace has chosen Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo as a 2015-16 Fall/Winter BuzzBook; free sample here.