The Last Chicken in America


From the Publisher’s Catalogue:

Twelve linked, wryly humorous stories about an unforgettable cast of Russian-Jewish immigrants trying to assimilate in a new world.

Masha is just out of high school when her family arrives in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. With touching lightheartedness and tremendous humor, these stories trace her struggles and those of other Russians in the community to find their own place in the new society — seniors alienated from their children, spouses trying to hold their families together while grappling with unemployment, young adults searching for love.

In “Dancers” the home of a married couple is invaded by a pair of hedonistic and financially unstable performers. The hero of “Trajectory of Frying Pans” falls for a coworker who may or may not be trapped in a green-card marriage. In “About Kamyshinskiy” a man, living under the scrutiny of his daughters and neighbors, is trying to start over after the death of his wife. This is an impressive debut about the sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious collision of cultures, religions, and generations in contemporary America.

Praise for The Last Chicken in America:

“‘The Last Chicken in America’ should be required reading for the entire planet: those of us yearning for a larger fate, those of us struggling under the loving burden of family, and, in particular, the various proto-fascists attempting to use immigration to scare decent Americans. Ellen Litman’s stories reminds us that the human soul is, in its essence, an immigrant: eager, rootless, searching tenderly for home. The depth of her insight, and the incandescence of her prose, is startling.”

“A beautiful, complex portrait of an immigrant community that, through its heart, virtuosity, humor, and unrelenting precision of vision, ends up being about America itself – about the complicated blessings that freedom, and the possibility of affluence, bring. The people in ‘The Last Chicken in America’ struggle – sometimes meanly, sometimes nobly – which is to say, they struggle like real people. Litman’s accomplishment is the compassion we feel for them. She is a wonderful, generous, immensely gifted young writer.”

“Ellen Litman’s intelligence is fresh, tender and wonderfully alive.”