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Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl [Paperback]

Marusya Bociurkiw
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

April 1 2007

Finalist,The Golden Crown Literary Award, Lesbian Short Story Essay Collection
Winner, Independent Publisher Award (SILVER), Autobiography/Memoir
Winner, ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (GOLD), Autobiography/Memoir
Finalist, Lambda Literary Award, Women's Memoir/Biography
Shortlisted for the Kobzar Literary Award
One of Quill & Quire's Books of the Year, 2007

Traversing decades and continents, Comfort Food for Breakups is an elegiac, sensual, and beguiling memoir about food, family, and personal history by fiction writer and filmmaker Marusya Bociurkiw. In these intimate vignettes, food-soup, eggs, chocolate truffle cake, perogies-nourishes, comforts, and heals the wounds of the past. Knishes recall a father haunted by memories of time spent in a concentration camp during World War II; chocolate evokes memories of queer girls and liasons in dim lesbian bars.

For the author, both at home in Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia, and in her travels through North America and Europe, food becomes her salvation, and a way to engage with the world. Thoughtful, moving, and passionate, Comfort Food for Breakups muses upon the ways in which food intersects with a nexus of hungers: for intimacy, for sex, for home.


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Review

A wonderful read for the hungry girl in all of us.
-Curve (Editor's Pick)

In Comfort Food for Breakups, I feel like in one book I've experienced lesbian love and traversed my dead grandmother's kitchen along with much of Europe, Vancouver, and Toronto.... It's an epic yet familiar read. Marusya Bociurkiw writes with a poised storyteller's voice. She conveys a hyper-awareness about food: food as reward, as punishment, as ritual.... [Her] writing is full of passion, inspired by a life well lived.
-NOW Magazine

Comfort Food for Breakups is a sumptuous collection of memories stunning and searing, complicated and comforting. The spectrum of broken hearts will find solace within these fierce pages.
-Shuna Fish Lydon, food blogger, eggbeater.typepad.com (Shuna Fish Lydon)

Comfort Food for Breakups is hungry with life, leavened with longing, love and memory, then garnished with queer.... Feast on this deeply.
-Heather Menzies, author of No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life (Heather Menzies)

A poignant mix of food literature and memoir.... Each chapter offers the opportunity to create fresh rituals with food and the people in our lives.
-Shameless

Bociurkiw writes lovingly and acutely about the countless nuances of food.... Throughout, her appreciation of food and the rituals that have grown around it are as evident as her hunger for the 'rare combination of family, lover and friends' that she's spent her life looking for.
―Xtra! and Xtra! West

Marusya Bociurkiw's Comfort Food for Breakups reveals the connections between food, memory, and life.... Particularly poignant are her intricate memories of loves lost and found. The foods she ate―everything from perogies to tortes to simple pastas―give meaning and structure to painful, disorienting events and memories, such as her father's detainment in a concentration camp during the Second World War.... Upon finishing the book, a calm satisfaction prevails with the knowledge that you've consumed something that's both good and good for you.
-Quill & Quire

A collection of tender stories and memories, sometimes funny and other times elegiac, and largely about the place food has in her life.
-Montreal Gazette

From the joy of gorging on her Ukrainian grandmother's pierogi to the carthartic qualities of post-heartbreak pie-making, Bociurkiw effectively demonstrates how food serves as history, as memory, as love.... When she says her lovers never go hungry, you believe her.
-Bust

Marusya Bociurkiw scatters literal recipes among her recollections of travel, growing up and lesbian haunts around the world. For her family, with its roots in the Ukraine, food was a sort of glue, and food becomes for Bocirukiw a way to bind memory, love, experience, and her connection to the world.
-Echo (Phoenix, AZ)

Author Marusya Bociurkiw takes readers on a journey through her life [centred on] the tastes of foods she has savoured throughout the years.... The book is worth reading and the recipes worth trying.
-SceneandHeard.ca

Marusya Bociurkiw's lush memoir revolves around good food: shopping for it, preparing it, and consuming it.... She uses food to relate to her world and to how she sees the world. Her vignettes are savory, sweet, and bittersweet, much like the recipes she includes.... Bociurkiw's thoughtful book engenders the reader to reflect on his/her own relationship to food, be it pivotal or casual, and in our fast-food world, to slow down and savor each bite.
-Philadelphia Gay News

Throughout Comfort Food for Breakups, Bociurkiw winds up suspended between the realities of the old world and the new. She tightropes across both of her cultures.... Comfort Food for Breakups is the narrative equivalent of a slow-cooked meal: Bociurkiw's words simmer, attentive and passionate, beckoning readers to relish and enjoy.
The Globe and Mail

The vignettes which comprise the book are all brisk and engaging; her life is as interesting as her writing.
-EDGE Boston

Comfort Food for Breakups is a celebration of the sometimes painful, sometimes passionate interconnections between food and memories..... [The book] is a satisfying collection of culinary reminiscences spiced with tempting recipes.
-Foreword Magazine

Comfort Food for Breakups is as bittersweet and delicious as really good dark chocolate.... [Bociurkiw's] sure sense of self and acute eye for detail keep her grounded. Her hungers are her own, and here they're most beautifully expressed.
-Georgia Straight

[The book contains] much about the richness of an ethnic family filled with great tradition and cooking. Recommended.
-Library Journal

In Bociurkiw's hunger-propelled memoirs, food, intertwined with the senses, connects her to blood, to her body, to stories and memory.... Food becomes her language, a form of communication that stands in for what she finds difficult to say. Between immigration, silence and belonging, she hungers to taste something familiar in a strange place. She eats to get back home.
-Feminist Review

In this memoir, which is also a cookbook, Marusya Bociurkiw covers some well-traveled territory in lesbian literature, yet her lovely prose style elevates the mundane.
-Gay & Lesbian Review

With language as rich as the food she describes, Bociurkiw shows us that there is much to be hungry for in what we have and what we don't.
-Herizons

Throughout Comfort Food for Breakups, Marusya Bociurkiw writes as affectionately about food as the people she shares it with.
-The Martlet (Victoria, BC)

It's a pleasure to read a woman who dives into hunger in order to map its contours and possibilities, who values food for the connections it creates between people, as a visceral bridge to memory.
-Elana Dykewomon, Women's Review of Books

The beauty of Bociurkiw's book is in the care she shows herself. She believes in the power of food to nurture and restore, and writes lovingly about the dishes of her childhood and of her parents' youth, of the rituals she creates around food, of the memories certain foods evoke. Most importantly, she tacitly espouses a belief in satisfying hunger, not denying it, which translates into the kind of profound self-acceptance and self-love that every woman should know.-Women's Post

Bociurkiw's book shares the spirit of those published recently by Julia Powell and Amander Hesser, where the culinary content is absolutely integral, but the personality of the author commands the center.... She adds a lovely, queer voice to the bounty of food memoirs being published. Recommended. -GLBT Round Table Newsletter (American Library Association)

About the Author

Marusya Bociurkiw is a filmmaker and the author of three previous books, including the novel The Children of Mary (2006) and the story collection The Woman Who Loved Airports (1994). Born in Edmonton, she has also lived in Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver, and currently Toronto, where she teaches film and media studies.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In East European cultures, appetizers are called perekusky. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Dec 27 2011
Format:Paperback
I loved this book. Too true to life. Knowing Vancouver well and Ukrainian life-style this was bang on. Not to mention queer relationships. Thanks.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars she hungers to taste something familiar in a strange place Sept. 4 2007
By Elevate Difference - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Soup can sometimes take the place of language..." Marusya Bociurkiw writes in Comfort Food for Breakups, and as the aroma of my mother's broth, sipped to ease sickness, floods my tongue, I too hunger for my mother's absent touch, for my young daughter knees, for my queer body.

Born in Canada to Ukrainian exiles, Bociurkiw weaves stories interspersed with recipes, travels, and tales of other refugees. Food is the conduit that allows her to traverse centuries and continents, a movement that turns meals and particular dishes into landmarks. Between two or more people, the preparation and ingestion of food becomes for her a conversation, one that revolves around fullness and emptiness, absence and presence.

In Bociurkiw's hunger-propelled memoirs, food, entwined with the senses, connects her to blood, to her body, to stories and memory. Eating and cooking are central to rituals of celebration, mourning, and gossip that engage her family, friends and lovers. During a romantic break-up she loses her appetite, yet the death of her brother makes her hungry.

It is through the landscape of the kitchen that Bociurkiw explores her connection to her mother's body, her grandmother's body and a matriarchal lineage in which she finds herself entangled. Her relationship to food allows her to break apart her own constructed femininities, against which her queerness acts as a transformative catalyst, informing how she inhabits her desire.

As Bociurkiw repeatedly returns to Ukraine and Vancouver, both in journey and in memory, she searches for the precise ingredients that feed her hunger. Whether opening her door to a stranger or taking care of a loved one, food becomes her language, a form of communication that stands in for what she finds difficult to say. Between immigration, silence and belonging, she hungers to taste something familiar in a strange place. She eats to get back home.
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