On Cigarette Papers by Pam Zinnermann-Hope

On Cigarette Papers

Pam Zinnermann-Hope

An amazing tale of women imprisoned in Stalin’s Russia who being near to starvation would talk about food, exchange recipes and write them down in tiny script on cigarette papers. Pam Zinnemann-Hope is the daughter of one of these women and the recipes were discovered only after her mother’s death in the 1990s. This resulting book of poetry tells the story of her parents and their brave fight for survival. I found it incredibly moving.


'Russische Kochrezepte, nicht wegwerfen',
Russian recipes, don't throw away;
I tip them out of their small envelope,
wonder who saved the papers,
where she found the pencil
since writing was forbidden;
the flimsy pile sits soft
in my palm...
her lists on cigarette papers;
my only map
of who is with her.

  • Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky
  • Schindler's ark by Thomas Keneally
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

Books with similar mood

The Mussel Feast

Birgit Vanderbeke

The Dig

Cynan Jones

The English Years

Norbert Gstein

Anatomy of a Soldier

Harry Parker

Baghdad Fixer

Ilene Prusher


Sandor Marai

Fugitive Pieces

Anne Michaels

Death Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa


Mick Kitson

Song for an Approaching Storm

Peter Fröberg Idling

Fragrant Harbour

John Lanchester

The Cave

Jose Saramago

Hikayat: Short Stories by Lebanese Women

Roseanne Saad Khalaf (ed)

The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea

Bandi .


Paul Kingsnorth

Night Work

Thomas Glavinic

The Mariner's Star

Candida Clark


Fiona Melrose

When We Were Orphans

Kazuo Ishiguro

The Tidings of the Trees

Wolfgang Hilbig

The Prophets of Eternal Fjord

Kim Leine

Scenes from Village Life

Amos Oz

Underground Time

Delphine de Vigan

Double Vision

Pat Barker


Michael Frayn

The Wasting Game

Philip Gross

A Book of Science and Antiquities

Thomas Keneally

We That Are Young

Preti Taneja

Time on my Hands

Giorgio Vasta

Moses, Citizen and Me

Delia Jarrett-Macauley


Anthony Cropper

Beneath Black Stars

Martin Chalmers

The Star Fraction

Ken Macleod

Your Face Tomorrow 2: Dance and Dream

Javier Marias


Cynan Jones

The Illuminations

Andrew O'Hagan


Nick Stafford

Our Horses in Egypt

Rosalind Belben

A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear

Atiq Rahimi

Windows on the World

Frederic Beigbeder

The Quarry

Damon Galgut

Without Blood

Alessandro Baricco

The Big Snow

David Park


Janette Turner Hospital

The Constant Gardener

John Le Carre

The Amber Fury

Natalie Haynes

People in the Room

Norah Lange

The Forgetting Time

Sharon Guskin

Say Something Back

Denise Riley