Odessa By Charles King Norton
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Saturday 29 September 2012
The free-spirited port of Odessa, now uneasily located in Ukraine, was Russia's Black Sea window on the south – and a haven for exotic styles of life and art.
Founded in 1794, it fast developed a cosmopolitan identity in which outsiders – migrants, thinkers, entrepreneurs, above all Jews – could flourish. Spanning the schooldays of Trotsky and the "Little Odessa" now implanted in Brooklyn, King's history of the multicultural city captures the "everyday difficulty of being diverse" in all its excitement and danger.
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