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Maxim Shrayer - A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas

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Harvard Coop

1400 Mass Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138

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Discussion, Q&A and Signing

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No longer at home in Russia, but not quite assimilated into the American mainstream, the daily lives of immigrants are fueled by a combustible mix of success and alienation. Simon Reznikov is restless. Unresolved feelings about his Jewish (and American) present and his Russian (and Soviet) past prevent him from easily putting down roots in his new country. A visit to a decaying summer resort in the Catskills, now populated by Jewish ghosts of Soviet history, reveals to Reznikov that he, too, is a prisoner of his past. An expedition to Prague in search of clues for an elusive writer's biography exposes Reznikov's own inability to move on. A chance reunion with a former lover, now also an immigrant living in an affluent part of Connecticut, unearths memories of Reznikov's last Soviet summer while reanimating many contradictors of a mixed, Jewish-Russian marriage.

Told both linearly and non-linearly, with elements of suspense, mystery and crime, these three interconnected novellas gradually reveal many layers of Simon Reznikov's Russian, Jewish, and Soviet past. Vectors of love and desire, nostalgia and amnesia, violence and forgiveness, politics and aesthetics guide Shrayer's immigrant characters while also disorienting them in their new American lives. Set in New England and also in places of pilgrimage such as Estonia and Bohemia, Shrayer's book weaves together a literary manifesto of Russian Jews in America.

About the Author:

Maxim D. Shrayer is Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College and Director of the Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry at the Davis Center. He is the author and editor of over 15 books books, including Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story, Yom Kippur in Amsterdam and Voices of Jewish-Russian Literature. Shrayer is a Guggenheim Fellow and the winner of a National Jewish Book Award. Visit Shrayer’s website at www.shrayer.com

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Harvard Coop

1400 Mass Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138

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