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


Quieter Than Water, Lower Than Grass: Growing Up Afraid in Russia, my Essay in Narrative Magazine

I’m deeply grateful to my friends at Narrative Magazine for publishing a personal essay that was born as a reaction to the news of Russia’s new round of war in Ukraine. As so many people around the world, I watch the developing news with horror and with absolute certainty that Putin must be stopped.

On February 24, 2022, the day Putin ordered Russian forces to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, I turned forty-three years old. As Ukrainians began to mount a fierce response to the aggressor, watching the bombs fall from afar, I was astonished and awed by their courage and determination to stop Putin’s army. I was also from-the-bottom-of-my-heart grateful. Like many of my peers who grew up in Russia, I have spent most of my life afraid of violence. I have not had the courage to face my fear but instead tried to outrun it.

I was born in 1979, in Leningrad, to a Jewish family. At about eight years old, when I decided I was old enough to pick up the family’s telephone, I took a call for “Nikolai Dmitrievich.”

Particular thanks to editors Carol Edgarian and Mimi Kusch and to Jack Schiff for working with me on this publication.

Teffi’s Memories

“Teffi, nom de plume of Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, was born in 1872 into a prominent Russian family. Following in the footsteps of her older sister Maria—poet Mirra Lokhvitskaya—Teffi published poetry and prose from the age of 29. She soon rose to fame by practicing a unique brand of self-deprecating humor and topical social satire. In her 1907 hit one-act play The Woman Question, subtitled A Fantasy, Teffi imagined a world in which a women’s revolution against men achieves a full role reversal. Women come to occupy the prominent political, military, academic, professional, and bureaucratic roles, while men are subjugated to the childcare and household management tasks. Though the play’s ending largely dismisses this scenario and trivializes the feminist cause, through humor, the piece makes the point that bad behavior—infidelity, sexual harassment, excessive drinking, pettiness—is a function of social status rather than of biological sex.

By the time of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, Teffi had nearly a dozen books to her name, and new printings of her story collections sold out instantly. With Lenin at the helm of the government, her fame became a liability. Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea opens with Teffi being talked into going on tour to Ukraine (then outside of Lenin’s domain)….”

Read the rest of this review in The Common.