The Soviet Wizard of Oz

I was delighted to participate in the BBC World Service program The Forum dedicated to L. Frank Baum and his 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He was deeply influenced by feminism and had a very interesting life, which makes for a great study. My contribution to the program involved talking about Alexander Volkov, who rewrote Baum’s book for the Soviet audience. Kansas in it appears far less gray and a much happier place to be than in Baum’s original, and the little dog Toto can talk.

Volkov’s novel, The Magician of Emerald City, was published in 1939, coincidentally the year of the release of the Hollywood movie based on Baum’s book. The movie and Baum’s book were completely unknown to most people behind the Iron Curtain, but the Volkov novel was hugely popular. It was foundational reading for me: one of my first chapter books, and the first book I’d read out loud in its entirety to my brother. To know more about all of this, do listen to the BBC show. Huge thanks to Bridget Kendall, the host, and to Anne Khazam, the producer of this show.

BBC World Service – The Forum, The Wizard of Oz: A homegrown American fairy tale

Here’s also the link to my earlier essay that appeared in Lit Hub: Did the Wizard of Oz Subvert Soviet Propaganda?

Podcast on International Literature

Huge thanks to Rita Chang-Eppig for organizing and leading this delightful conversation for GrottoPod about the joys of reading across borders and languages. Tune in here or find us on a podcast reader of your choice!

“What can international literature teach us about our collective past, present and future in these chaotic times? In the latest GrottoPod Gabfest, producer and Grotto fellow Rita Chang-Eppig talks to Jesus Francisco Sierra, Mathangi Subramanian and Olga Zilberbourg about the appeal of international literature, its necessity in our increasingly connected world, and our favorite authors and books, including Akram Aylisli’s Farewell, Aylis! (translated by Katherine E. Young), Perumal Murugan’s One Part Woman, Wendy Guerra’s Revolution Sunday (translated by Achy Obejas), and Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge (translated by Stephen Snyder). “