Masha Hamilton is the author of five novels, including The Camel Bookmobile and 31 Hours. Her latest, What Changes Everything, braids together stories of Americans far from the front line whose lives are irretrievably linked and changed by America’s longest-running conflict, and explores the grace of unexpected human connections in a world often too harsh and dangerous to face alone.

MHamiltonStela, September 10th


Dorogoi Mr. Chomsky,

Greetings, or privyet, as I would like to be able to salute you; I know you must know your Russian given your parents’ background. My name is Stela Sidorova, I am 56 years old and immigrated from the Soviet Union with my then-husband when I was only 20 years old. We moved to Ohio, where I now own and run a used bookstore. Alone, I might add. My husband, the chyort, deserted me nine years after our arrival here. I should have pounded his balls, but he was not a real man as you are, a man who stayed with his wife and supported his offspring. Oh well, forgive my frankness as I have forgiven him. At least he contributed to the creation of two little boys who then became mine alone. And because of him, I learned I must pray to God, but keep rowing to shore—an important lesson.