A Conversation with Andrey Kurkov at the Rinconada Palo Alto Library


Andrey Kurkov has been one of the most important Ukrainian voices who tell the story of the Russian invasion to the Western audiences. He is a powerful fiction writer who has had to put aside his creative writing for the past months to tell the story of his country. He’s also an amazing storyteller, and one of those rare people whose humor and wit color everything they do. Don’t miss this opportunity to see him in Palo Alto a week from today. He will be appearing at 6:30 pm at Palo Alto’s Rinconada library. This local appearance might be the last chance to see him in the Bay Area for a while.

Please register!

Because of Roses!

San Francisco Bay Area friends! Come help me celebrate the publication of my friend Richard May’s new collection of stories, BECAUSE OF ROSES. I got to talking to Rick at a Litquake event one year, when we attended an event focused on literature in translation. I’m so impressed with the geographic and cultural range of his fiction. He writes unabashedly about love that can spark between men at every stage of life, across language barriers, ideological divides, and in the face of grief and fear. It helps that love has chance, leprechauns, and roses on its side. I delight in the magic of these stories, their kindness, and the joyful appreciation of the male bodies.

APRIL 23, 2:30 PM

MANNY’s (3092 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103)

Rick has hosted several reading series in San Francisco, and he’s a great entertainer — I expect this to be a lot of fun with some surprises!

An Evening with Andrey Kurkov in San Francisco!

I am delighted to have the opportunity to interview one of Ukraine’s best-known authors, and an author whose work I’ve been admiring for so many years, Andrey Kurkov, as a part of Litquake’s year-round series The Epicenter. Andrey Kurkov has been one of the most vocal voices in the West in support of Ukraine. He has traveled widely in Ukraine and the world, collecting stories and communicating the realities of this war in the premier English-language newspapers and magazines. He will be presenting a new book called DIARY OF INVASION (Deep Vellum Press) that collects some of these stories. As horrific as Russia’s war on Ukraine has been, Kurkov’s point of view is illuminating and delivered with kindness and respect for the readers. It’s a necessary book to read right now.

I expect this event to be sold out–don’t wait to reserve your tickets.

My friend, editor Briony Everroad introduced me to Kurkov’s work many years ago. Briony worked with Kurkov when his novel Death and the Penguin was first translated to English by George Bird and published in the UK to great success. It’s a hilarious and profound novel about the aftermath of the USSR’s fall, as seen through the eyes of one Kyiv-based journalist. Following Kurkov’s work over the years, I had a chance to review his novel Grey Bees last year for On the Seawall. I was so pleased to see that this novel and its translator, the amazing poet and man of letters, Boris Dralyuk won the National Book Critics Circle Prize a couple of weeks ago. Huge congratulations to all.

Come! This event is free, with recommended donations. (And please donate if you can!)

April 7, 7 pm

Hotel Emblem, San Francisco


A Reading and Conversation with Tatsiana Zamirovskaya, Polina Barskova, and Olga Zilberbourg

It’s such an honor and delight to be reading together with two authors whom I deeply admire. Tatsiana Zamirovskaya’s novel THE DEADNET (Смерти.net) is one of the most interesting, innovative novels I’ve read in the recent years, and when I heard that she’s coming to the Bay Area I jumped at the opportunity to introduce her work to the local literary community. In many circles Polina Barskova’s work needs no introduction: she is a poet of force, vision and integrity, and we’re lucky to have her teaching at UC Berkeley. Her recent book LIVING PICTURES was published by NYRB (trans Catherine Ciepiela) and her poetry has been widely translated to English.

Where: Adobe Books, 3130 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

When: Saturday March 25, 2023, at 7 pm

This event will be held in English.

The full event announcement:

Three writers born in the Soviet Union will read from their work and discuss responses to the ongoing Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.  The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has been met with an incredible flowering of poetry against war, yet we also must note the many voices that have fallen silent. As writers, one of our tasks is to find meaning in the unfathomable events that we witness. We reach into the past, into the institutional and family archives, to gather material for this work. The ongoing war makes much of this work impossible. Even the language in which some of us work—Russian—has become deeply stained by association with the Russian government. Yet we continue to reach for meaning in the past, in the stories we tell, in the emotional and bodily truths that we try to shape into words and language.   

Polina Barskova is a scholar and a poet, author of thirteen collections of poems and three books of prose in Russian. Her collection of creative nonfiction, LIVING PICTURES (NYRB, 2022) received the Andrey Bely Prize in 2015 and is also forthcoming in German with Suhrkamp Verlag. She edited the Leningrad Siege poetry anthology WRITTEN IN THE DARK (Ugly Duckling Presse) and has four collections of poetry published in English translation. Barskova is a renowned scholar of World War II who has edited multiple volumes on the culture of the besieged Leningrad. She teaches in the Slavic Department at UC Berkeley.

Tatsiana Zamirovskaya is a writer from Belarus, who moved to Brooklyn in 2015. She writes metaphysical and socially charged fiction about memory, ghosts, hybrid identities and borders between empires and languages. Tatsiana is the author of three short story collections and a bestselling novel about digital resurrection THE DEADNET. Published in 2021 in Moscow, it received great critical and popular acclaim. She is also a journalist and essayist, writing about art, traumatic memories, dictatorships and dreams.

Olga Zilberbourg’s English-language debut LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES (WTAW Press) explores “bicultural identity hilariously, poignantly,” according to The Moscow Times. Born in Leningrad, USSR, she grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and makes her home in San Francisco, California. She serves as a consulting editor at Narrative Magazine and as a co-facilitator of the San Francisco Writers Workshop. Together with Yelena Furman, she has co-founded Punctured Lines, a feminist blog about literature from the former Soviet Union. She is currently at work on her first novel.

Readings by Authors Born in Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova at San Francisco’s Lit Crawl

Punctured Lines

Punctured Lines is co-hosting a Lit Crawl reading by six Bay Area writers born in Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova. Shaken by the horrific tragedy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we will read pieces exploring our connections, direct and indirect, to the part of the world we associate with home and exile, and where many of our friends and relatives are suffering as a result of the war. We work in the genres of nonfiction, literary and historical fiction, YA, flash, and other literary forms to tell our stories, and will read excerpts from our published and new work.

This event will take place at 5 pm on October 22nd at Blondie’s Bar, 540 Valencia St. in San Francisco .

Maggie Levantovskaya is a writer and lecturer in the English department at Santa Clara University. She was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and grew up in San Francisco. She has…

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Litquake Panel on Writing Communities

The world is on fire, cataclysmic events developing by the day and by the hour. As I am working on a novel, I feel that to do my job well, I have to turn off all the news for long chunks of time. My novel is set in the year 1990, and current news are not helpful when I’m trying to finish my draft. Yet I don’t want to hide my head in the sand and miss an opportunity to contribute today and now, whenever my particular intersection of skills can be of use.

I know many writers are trying to balance these impossible contradictions and demands on our time. Finding time to build community has never felt more important. For writers in San Francisco, come to this Litquake event for info about awesome local writers communities. I’ll be representing the San Francisco Writers Workshop — a free community workshop that meets at Noisebridge Hackerspace at 272 Capp Street on Tuesday nights 7-9 pm.

Pre-order tickets on Eventbrite.

Upcoming event with Kate Greene

Here’s something to look forward to in 2022: I get a chance to do an event with journalist and poet Kate Greene about her book ONCE UPON A TIME I LIVED ON MARS — a personal story of Kate’s participation in a NASA-sponsored Mars dome experiment that dives into the history and culture of spaceflight.

Some of Kate’s biggest questions in the book explore the kinds of bodies that get to participate in space flight, pointing to how our human biases and social structures limit our quest for knowledge.

It’s an exciting, wide-book, and I hope that thanks to ZOOM many of you will be able to tune into the conversation. Huge thanks to Richard May for organizing and Folio Books San Francisco for hosting. Buy our books from Folio and register for the event here!

Born in the USSR, Raised in California: Video Recording

The video from our recent event is here!

Punctured Lines

Thanks to everyone who could attend our event on Saturday, December 4th, and thank you all for your engagement and for your wonderful questions. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s the video recording from the event and links to our work.

Seven immigrant writers read their fiction and nonfiction related to immigration, identity, family history and the mother tongue(s). Let’s talk about buckwheat and pickled herring with beets. What do you do if your children refuse to eat traditional foods? Or when your dying grandmother forgets English and Russian and begins speaking to you in Yiddish? Does a Soviet-era secret still matter when the country no longer exists? We explore love, life, loss and the nuances of living with a hybrid identity.

Masha Rumer’s nonfiction book, Parenting with an Accent: How Immigrants Honor Their Heritage, Navigate Setbacks, and Chart New Paths for Their Children, is forthcoming…

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Born in the USSR, Raised in California: Immigrant Writers Read From Their Work

This event has been a long time in the making, and I’m so excited to participate!!

Punctured Lines

Dear Punctured Lines readers — come meet us on Zoom, and help us celebrate the publication of Masha Rumer’s book! (In San Francisco? Come meet us in person, details below.) We’re so happy to welcome Masha’s newly published Parenting With an Accent: How Immigrants Honor Their Heritage, Navigate Setbacks, and Chart New Paths for Their Children (Beacon Press). Punctured Lines published a Q&A with Masha when this book was still in the proposal stage, and we’ve been following Masha’s Twitter posts about its development with great interest and anticipation. Now that this book is out and available for all to read we are ready to party (and encourage all of our readers to buy it)!

This upcoming event will feature Masha Rumer herself and our blog co-founders Yelena Furman and Olga Zilberbourg alongside the brilliant Maggie Levantovskaya, Vlada Teper, Sasha Vasilyuk, and Tatyana Sundeeva, all immigrant writers, all born in…

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