Recently Talia Carner, author of Hotel Moscow: A Novel, was the guest speaker at the Smithtown Chapter of American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) author luncheon meeting at Voila in St. James. AAUW was founded in 1881, its mission is the empowerment of women.
Ms. Carner is a native of Tel Aviv, Israel and currently has a home on Long Island. She has a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Hebrew University and a master’s degree from SUNY Stony Brook with a concentration in economics. She is an award winning author who has published four novels and many articles. While living in Israel she served in the Israel Defense Force. Talia is married to Ron Carner and they have four grown children.
The author was a perfect fit for this group of educated and aware women. The luncheon took place prior to the November 8 election and there was an element of excitement amongst the attendees. Perhaps this election would be historical and a female would be elected as the next president of the United States.
Hotel Moscow is about a young woman in her late thirty’s who is the child of Russian Holocaust survivors. She visits Russia in 1993 during the Yeltsin uprising. The protagonist, Brooke Fielding, is in Russia as part of a mission to help Russian women as they transition from communism to a capitalistic society. Achieving the goals of the mission is complicated by societal norms where women are not respected, crimes against women are rampant and mafia style protection and payoffs are accepted as the norm. There is a character in the book who states matter of factly, that ‘Italians are lucky they have only one mafia”. Life is difficult for the women in Russia’s paternalistic society where alcholism has reduced the productivity and average life span for men, leaving women to fend for themselves and thier families. In Hotel Moscow, women face greed, abuse, rape and dispair with little support and many obstacles.
Hotel Moscow is disquieting. It is about conflict of many varieties. The conflict of an adult child visiting a country that had taken the very soul from her parents. The conflict of a nation where people are indoctrinated to a lifestyle of dependency on government and are unprepared to navigate a free-for-all world in which they find themselves. There is the conflict of women who are in a society that pits them against one another and who live with the philosophy of your gain is my loss. Lastly, there is the conflict of a woman working through issues of her lifestyle.
While the book does not come close to resolving the many issues set in the story, it does explose issues and offers an explainations for the many obstacles faced by the women of Russia. Hotel Moscow: A Novel is not for the faint of heart but it is for those who may want a glimpse of the life of Russian women.