'I'm a hero. It's easy to be a hero. If you don't have hands or feet, you're either a hero or dead.' So begins Ruben Gallego's shocking account of his bleak life in the Soviet Union's network of hidden orphanages.
Ruben was born in Moscow in 1968 with severe cerebral palsy. His grandfather, the head of Spain's Communist Party, found his disability unbearable and banished him to a state orphanage, telling Ruben's mother that her son had died.
Communist Russia's much vaunted welfare system claimed to leave no citizen behind. But as Ruben moved from home to home he lived the sinister reality behind the myth. He faced freezing dormitories, rotten food, the cruelty of carers, and the belief that his mother had abandoned him. Above all he suffered severe neglect, as a 'non-ambulant' in homes which often lacked one single wheelchair, and in which people were left lying, and dying, in their own filth.
But Ruben was tenacious. With his disability, survival was already a way of life. And the occasional kindnesses shown him - a fig, chocolate, a conversation - fed his passion for freedom. From within he finds the strength to escape his fate, marry, become a parent and, eventually, track down and reunite with his mother.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
When Ruben was born with severe cerebral palsy his grandfather banished him to an orphanage, telling his mother he was dead.
Ruben's life was a series of freezing dormitories, rotting food and cruel carers. He was haunted by the rumour his mother had abandoned him. But the occasional kindnesses shown to him - a fig, a mouthful of chocolate, a conversation - fed his passion for life. Ruben was determined to escape the orphanages and seek out the truth about his mother. This is his heroic story.
'A painful story of the handicapped abandoned in Soviet orphanages' (Publishing News)
Groundbreaking (New York Times)
'Bleak, but kinda heroic' (Venue (Bristol Time Out))
'A remarkable, episodic memoir of shocking neglect ... Gallego's indomitable spirit in the face of adversity, and his extraordinary way with language, reminded me of Christie Brown's My Left Foot. Albeit with Vodka thrown in.' (Bookseller)
'Brilliant ... extraordinary .. the glimpses of adversity and triumph are quirky, sometimes appalling, often funny and touching without being sentimental' (Publishers Weekly)
'A short, sharp stunner of a memoir ... a rich, haunting and deceptively simple work' (Kirkus)
This book is today's Gulag Archipelago, a plea to ordinary people not to close themselves off to the truth (Naum Nim, editor of Index on Censorship)
'He writes with bitter elegance - and keeps his strange, custom-built sense of humour' (Observer)
'He tells his life in a series of vignettes, as terse and self-contained as his prose style ...Yet Gallego isn't self-pitying. Instead his book exudes a sort of tough wonderment.' (Financial Times)
'An extremely moving account of the triumph of the spirit and intellect over unimaginable suffering' (Sainsbury's Magazine)
'An incredible and moving autobiographical novel' (Andrey Kurkov, New Statesman)
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Book Description Mariner Books, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX015603235X
Book Description Harvest Books, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 015603235X
Book Description Harvest Books, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P11015603235X
Book Description Harvest Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 015603235X New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0931064