Hunger by Elise Blackwell
A Novel

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Scouring the world’s most remote fields and valleys, a dedicated Soviet scientist has spent his life collecting rare plants for his country’s premiere botanical institute in Leningrad. From Northern Africa to Afghanistan, from South America to Abyssinia, he has sought and saved seeds that could be traced back to the most ancient civilizations. And the adventure has set deep in him. Even at home with the wife he loves, the memories of his travels return him to the beautiful women and strange foods he has known in exotic regions.

When German troops surround Leningrad in the fall of 1941, he becomes a captive in the siege. As food supplies dwindle, residents eat the bark of trees, barter all they own for flour, and trade sex for food. In the darkest winter hours of the siege, the institute’s scientists make a pact to leave untouched the precious storehouse of seeds that they believe is the country’s future. But such a promise becomes difficult to keep when hunger is grows undeniable.

Based on true events from World War II, Hunger is a private story about a man wrestling with his own morality. This beautiful debut novel ask us what is the meaning of integrity

About Elise Blackwell

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Elise Blackwell is the author of The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish and Hunger, chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best books of 2003. Originally from southern Louisiana, she teaches at the University of South Carolina.
Published April 1, 2008 by Unbridled Books. 158 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Hunger

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Blackwell’s little slip of a debut derives from the life of the real biologist and geneticist Nikolai Vavilov as it tells the story of a fictional scientist who survives the siege of Leningrad and life under Stalinism.

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Publishers Weekly

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The opening chapters find the anonymous narrator ensconced in his New York apartment, waxing poetic about his life as a botanist during the siege of Leningrad, as he and his colleagues struggle to save the city's rare collection of plants in the botanical gardens.

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Time Out Chicago

Andrew Hansen’s Hitchcockian sound design helps keep the tension high—important when most of the play involves people sitting in one room discussing seeds.

Feb 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Hunger: A Novel

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