• Doctor Levitin

    by David Shrayer-Petrov
    Price $26.99
    On Its Way
    Doctor Levitin

David Shrayer-Petrov


Doctor Levitin

in conversation with

This event includes a book signing


October 11, 2018
7:00 PM


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed writer DAVID SHRAYER-PETROV for a discussion of his novel Doctor Levitin—a modern classic in Jewish literature, available now for the first time in English. He will be joined in conversation by MAXIM D. SHRAYER and ARNA B. BRONSTEIN, translators of Doctor Levitin.

About Doctor Levitin

A major work of late twentieth-century Russian and Jewish literature since its first publication in Israel in 1986, Doctor Levitin has also seen three subsequent Russian editions. It is the first in David Shrayer-Petrov's trilogy of novels about the struggle of Soviet Jews and the destinies of refuseniks. In addition to being the first novel available in English that depicts the experience of the Jewish exodus from the former USSR, Doctor Levitin is presented in an excellent translation that has been overseen and edited by the author's son, the bilingual scholar Maxim D. Shrayer.

Doctor Levitin is a panoramic novel that portrays the Soviet Union during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the USSR invaded Afghanistan and Soviet Jews fought for their right to emigrate. Doctor Herbert Levitin, the novel's protagonist, is a professor of medicine in Moscow whose non-Jewish wife, Tatyana, comes from the Russian peasantry. Shrayer-Petrov documents with anatomical precision the mutually unbreachable contradictions of the Levitins' mixed marriage, which becomes an allegory of Jewish-Russian history. Doctor Levitin's Jewishness evolves over the course of the novel, becoming a spiritual mission. The antisemitism of the Soviet regime forces the quiet intellectual and his family to seek emigration. Denied permission to leave, the family of Doctor Levitin is forced into the existence of refuseniks and outcasts, which inexorably leads to their destruction and a final act of defiance and revenge on the Soviet system.

A significant contribution to the works of translated literature available in English, David Shrayer-Petrov's Doctor Levitin is ideal for any reader of fiction and literature. It will hold particular interest for those who study Jewish or Russian literature, culture, and history and Cold War politics.


"David Shrayer-Petrov survived living hell and transferred his experiences to fiction. In this major Jewish-Russian novel, he raises the pitch of storytelling to devastating levels." —Brian Horowitz, Sizeler Family Endowed Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University

"This novel is a testimony to the highest strength of spirit of Soviet Jews. The novel's key universal theme of man's opposition to the suppression and enslavement of a police state takes it into the ranks of the most significant achievements of contemporary humanistic literature." —Roman Katsman, author of Nostalgia for a Foreign Land

"In Russian intelligentsia circles, David Shrayer-Petrov has long become a legend . . . The significance of the publication of the English translation of the novel Doctor Levitin stretches far beyond the boundaries of Russian-Jewish culture . . . Shrayer-Petrov is the poet of exodus in the biblical sense of the word. Doctor Levitin mixes the documentary elements of a witness report with a fascinating metaphorical narrative drawn from the centuries-old tradition of Judaism." —Klavdia Smola, Associate Professor, University of Greifswald, author of Reinventing Tradition

Arna B. Bronstein
Arna B. Bronstein

Arna B. Bronstein

Arna B. Bronstein is a professor of Russian and Slavic studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is the co-author of several acclaimed textbooks of Russian, including Making Progress in Russian, and has translated fiction and nonfiction from the Russian. 

David Shrayer-Petrov
David Shrayer-Petrov

David Shrayer-Petrov

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 and three books of fiction in English translation, including Dinner with Stalin and Other Stories.

Maxim D. Shrayer
Maxim D. Shrayer

Maxim D. Shrayer

Born in Moscow in 1967, Maxim D. Shrayer is a professor at Boston College and a bilingual writer and translator. Shrayer has authored ten books, among them the memoir Waiting for America, the collection Yom Kippur in Amsterdam, and the Holocaust study I Saw It: Ilya Selvinsky and the Legacy of Bearing Witness to the Shoah. Shrayer’s Anthology of Jewish-Russian Literature won a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, and in 2012 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

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