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November sees the release of Academic Studies Press’s long-anticipated Russian Cuisine in Exile. Translated into English from the original Russian, Russian Cuisine in Exile defies genre to present an exploration of what it meant to be a Russian émigré in the 1980s.

Made up of humorous cultural essays and interspersed with traditional Russian recipes, the book explores the connection food has to culture, both at large and specifically émigré, whilst providing an amusing look at the intersection between Russian life and the American cultural landscape in which the original writers, Pyotr Vail and Alexander Genis, found themselves existing.

The original Russian text became a staple of émigré communities and Soviet residents alike, and this new English translation features extensive commentary by the translators and editors, Angela Brintlinger and Thomas Feerick, allowing an entirely new community access to a funny, contemplative, and instructive book that is filled with glimpses of what it means to be Russian, regardless of where you are in the world.

In celebration of the book’s publication, we tried to recreate one of the classic Russian recipes that the book provides instruction on – one that the whole Eurospan office might be on board with! Our choice was the sharlotka, an indulgent dessert not unlike a bread and butter pudding. If you’re feeling braver, though, traditional recipes throughout include mushroom meatballs, chicken broth, the perfect garlic aioli, and the most Russian dish of them all – cabbage soup!

Sharlotka seemed to be an obvious choice for a wintery Monday at the Eurospan office – sweet, hearty, and perfect with a cup of tea. There’s also a recipe for the proper way to make tea included in the book as well, just in case you needed a refresher! Judging by the empty tray in the kitchen, Vail and Genis were on to a winner with this staple dessert…

And as Vail and Genis summarise themselves: “Of course, no one gets skinny eating sharlotka. And they say that eating a lot of bread is harmful. On the other hand, life is generally a harmful thing — after all, it always leads to death. But once you’ve eaten a piece of sharlotka, that inevitable destination seems somehow less frightening.”

Russian Cuisine in Exile from Academic Studies Press is available to order in paperback on the Eurospan bookstore.

Music in the 1980s was a cacophony of genre. From rap – and artists such as Grandmaster Flash and Run DMC – to R&B, New Wave, and heavy metal, the decade was filled with musical innovation and success – and in no genre more so than dance pop.

Dance pop in the 1980s represented a fusion of musical style, an exciting new take on popular music that used electronics to create anthemic songs, which have endured well into the present day. From Dead or Alive to Milli Vanilli, the musical legacy of 1980s pop music transcended its time and is still widely adored today.

The lasting power of these songs, as well as the creative minds, lifestyles, and work processes behind them, are the focal point of McFarland author James Arena’s new title, Europe’s Stars of ‘80s Dance Pop. Comprised of original interviews with 32 of the industry’s most widely adored creatives, ‘80s Dance Pop deconstructs the music and careers of some of the most celebrated ‘80s stars, gaining personal insight into the workings of the pop industry in its best-remembered era.

This new text is filled with fascinating dialogues with industry professionals, such as Yasmin Evans (of Yazz fame):

“Success in the music industry is a powerful, emotive road to be on; that’s for sure. The nature of the beast of success is that it wants to be maintained, nurtured and kept going. It’s simply not happy to have one hit; there have to be more. […] I couldn’t believe it—the pressure was so intense early on. You are number one pretty much all over Europe and other continents, and it felt like it happened too quickly—way too quickly."

It also includes in-depth, personal interviews with some of the 1980s’ biggest music stars, including Pete Burns, of Dead or Alive:

"I’m really not interested in what people think of me, especially the negativity. As a living human being, I’ve refused to pay any attention to it. […] With the music, I’ve said before that you’re buying the record, not me. Thank you for buying the record, but you haven’t bought me.”

Europe’s Stars of ‘80s Dance Pop also features special forewords by Dallas star Audrey Landers and Academy Award-winning legend Mel Brooks, who discusses his 1983 film To Be or Not to Be – and its controversial accompanying song:

"They wouldn’t play it on the radio or television in America. They thought the video was a little too sexy and a little too out there. […] But the Germans did have something I believe was called the cinema club, sort of an underground movie theater circuit, and there must have been a thousand of those places all throughout the country. If we made any money from the film, it was there.”

This new McFarland title is available to order now from the Eurospan Bookstore, along with a wider selection of James Arena's titles, which provide in-depth perspectives on a multitude of musical styles across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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