in conversation with
MAXIM D. SHRAYER and ARNA B. BRONSTEIN
This event includes a book signing
October 11, 2018
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
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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