Twelve Chairs Book

In Fun
Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Front cover of the book
Front cover of the book

My father, along with his sister and parents, fled the religious intolerance of the Soviet Union in 1988. They weren't allowed by the government to bring any posessions with them except for some books and $150 worth of money each. While they snuck out some red caviar, a watch, and engineering equipment, all that had to be sold once they got to Italy, so that they could sustain themselves. Only the books, which my father loved so much, remained with them by the time they left Italy for America. "Twelve Chairs", a humorous novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov that included a satirical critique of Soviet socialism, was one of his favorites. It became popular in his home country and in America, and he would re-read it quite often. Usually, this was done while eating or drinking something, and now, flipping through its yellowed pages tells a story of over 30 years' worth of stains and marks on the paper. When I was about 6 years old, my dad would read that very same book to me. 2 years later, we re-read it together, clutching our sides from laughter. 2 years after that, I read it by myself, and spilled a little bit of hot tea on one of the pages. "Twelve Chairs", a book that centers around hope, is one of the last connections my dad still has to his life in the Soviet Union. It was with him when he immigrated twice, it was with him when I was born, and it remains proudly in the front and center of our bookshelf now, when I'm almost at the age that he was when he had to immigrate. 

Year: 1988

– Isaac Segal

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant