The powerful voice of David Shrayer-Petrov’s immigrant fiction blends Russian, Jewish, and American traditions. Collecting an autobiographical novel and three short stories, Autumn in Yalta brings together the achievements of the great Russian masters Chekhov and Nabokov and the magisterial Jewish and American storytellers Bashevis Singer and Malamud. Shrayer-Petrov’s fiction examines the forces and contradictions of love through different ethnic, religious, and social lenses.
Set in Stalinist Russia, the novel Strange Danya Rayev revolves around the wartime experiences of a Jewish Russian boy evacuated from his besieged native Leningrad to a remote village in the Ural Mountains.
In the title story Autumn in Yalta, the idealistic protagonist, Dr. Samoylovich, is sent to a Siberian prison camp because of his ill-fated love for Polechka, a tuberculosis patient. In The Love of Akira Watanabe once again unrequited love is the focus of the central character, a displaced Japanese professor at a New England university. A fishing expedition and an old Jewish recipe make for a surprise ending in Carp for the Gefilte Fish, a tale of a childless couple from Belarus and their American employers. In the tradition of other physician-writers, such as Anton Chekhov and William Carlos Williams, Shrayer-Petrov’s prose is marked by analytical exactitude and passionate humanism. Love and memory, dual identity, and the experience of exile are the chief components.
David Shrayer-Petrov, a well-known contemporary Russian-American writer and medical scientist, was born in Leningrad in 1936 and immigrated to the United States in 1987. He has published twenty-five books in his native Russian, most recently the novel The Story of My Beloved. Shrayer-Petrov’s books of fiction in English include Jonah and Sarah: Jewish Stories of Russia and America and Dinner with Stalin and Other Stories.
Maxim D. Shrayer, the author’s son and translator, is a professor at Boston College and a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow. His books include An Anthology of Jewish-Russian Literature and Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story.
5.5 x 8.5, 248 pages