When Sonia Met Boris: Stories of Love and Family in Stalin’s Soviet Union


The Soviet Union went through war, destruction and chaos in the 1940s and the early 1950s. But for many of its citizens, this time was the prime of their lives, when they raised families, build careers, and made friends. These simple actions often required courage, forced them to make impossible choices, negotiate absurd rules, or laugh in the face of discrimination.

Professors Doris Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair in Holocaust Studies and and Ato Quayson (English) will discuss the new book by Anna Shternshis, When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life Under Stalin (Oxford University Press, 2017). They are followed by singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko and Anna Shternshis, who will  present a lecture/concert program featuring Soviet Jewish stories, anecdotes, songs and jokes in Russian and Yiddish. Sometimes sad, more often hilarious, always unforgettable, these narratives and artefacts transport us to the world of dilemmas, self-deprecating humour and controversies of the Soviet Jewish experience.

Presented with Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, Al and Malka Green Program in Yiddish Studies, SSHRC.

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