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Writing in the vibrant voice of "A Russian Immigrant" and employing a rich variety of poetic forms, award-winning author and Boston College professor Maxim D. Shrayer offers thirty-six interconnected poems about the impact of election-year politics and COVID-19 on American society. Through a combination of biting satire and piercing lyricism, "Of Politics and Pandemics"
delivers a translingual poetic manifesto of despair, hope, love, and loss. Maxim D. Shrayer
, a translingual author, scholar and translator, is Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College. Born in Moscow in 1967 to a writer's family, Shrayer emigrated to the United States in 1987. He has authored over fifteen books in English and Russian, among them the internationally acclaimed memoir "Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story,"
the collection "Yom Kippur in Amsterdam,"
and the anthology "Voices of Jewish-Russian Literature."
His works have been translated into nine languages. Shrayer won a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, and in 2012 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Shrayer's recent books include "A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas"
(in English) and "Antisemitism and the Decline of Russian Village Prose"
(in Russian). Reviews
"Whether lobbing satiric barbs at presidential hopefuls or pondering the bonds of marriage and family in a time of pandemic, Maxim D. Shrayer's collection, at once lyrical and playful, captures the predicament of a Russian immigrant in Trump-era America with delicious wit and timely acuity."
- Andrew Sofer
, poet and Professor of English, Boston College, author of Wave
and Dark Matter
"Maxim D. Shrayer's new collection of poems is a splendid achievement, and just what the doctor ordered for readers reeling from the double assault of political upheavals and raging pandemic. Shrayer's poems are not only personal, but also culturally rich and politically astute-a rare combination in lyric poetry... "Of Politics and Pandemics
is a tonic for our times."
- Anna Brodsky-Krotkina
, Professor of Russian Studies, Washington & Lee University and columnist, Nezavisimaya gazeta
"Both apocalyptic banality and existential suspense need a special poetic perspective: '...Can you create/ a living record?' 'I'm not sure what you mean.'/ 'Can you describe this?' 'This? You mean the taste/ of spring on our lips? The April wind?'/ 'No, the pandemic, ' my double spoke with passion.' This dialogue recalls Anna Akhmatova's tragic words in "Requiem"
: 'Can you describe this?' And I said: I can.'"
- Stefano Garzonio,
poet and Professor of Slavic Studies, Pisa University, editor of Poesia Russa
and Lirici Russi dell'Ottocento
"You can't live in America at the moment and not find yourself taken aback by the laughable craziness of some things and the incredible desperation of others. Maxim D. Shrayer captures that feeling so well. Without much fanfare, he also makes an urgent case for the thinking person and for a return to decency and civility in our leaders - to which I say: here's to that "- Graeme Harper,
Editor, New Writing: the International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing
and author of Discovering Creative Writing
"What differentiates this collection from much of the purely topical writings of the day is its author's ability to relate personal, often very private experiences to more general issues such as election politics and the pandemic. Shrayer also breathes new life into such 'old-fashioned' stanzaic structures as terza rima
and sonnet. In doing so, Shrayer achieves an equilibrium between passion and reason, conviction and contemplation."
- Igor Vishnevetsky
, author of Leningrad
and Sergei Prokofiev