Writers in Residence Program
The Harriman Institute’s Writer in Residence Program brings renowned writers from Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe to Columbia for an extended visit. The initiative was launched in 2013 by graduate students from the Department of Slavic Languages eager to discuss literature with living authors from the region. Writers in Residence teach a short course, meet with students and faculty, and participate in special public events that allow the writer to present their work to a broader audience and to facilitate a cross-cultural dialogue.
Fall 2023 Writer in Residence
“I could not have imagined a situation in which I would decide not to write a novel. But it has happened. Reality is now scarier, more dramatic than any fictional prose. Now it is necessary to write only the truth, only non-fiction. All those who can write are witnessing one of the worst crimes of the 21st century. The task of witnesses is to record and preserve the evidence of the crime. Yes, now I am a witness in a future criminal trial.”
-- From Andriy Kurkov's Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at PEN World Voices Festival (May 2022)
Born near Leningrad in 1961, Andriy Kurkov was a journalist, prison warder, cameraman and screenplay-writer before he became well known as a novelist. His novel Death and the Penguin, his first in English translation, became an international bestseller, translated into more than 30 languages. As well as writing fiction for adults and children, he has become known as a commentator and journalist on Ukraine for the international media. Kurkov's novel Grey Bees, translated by Boris Dralyuk, was awarded the 2023 National Book Critics Circle award. His most recent book, Diary of an Invasion (Deep Vellum, 2023), a collection of Kurkov's writings and broadcasts from Kyiv, is a remarkable record of a brilliant writer at the forefront of a 21st-century war.
Kurkov will teach "Ukraine. Literature and Politics," a 1-credit course, which will meet for four weekly sessions, beginning November 13. Kurkov Ukraine. Literature and Politics Syllabus
Read The NY Times review of Grey Bees (March 29, 2022) and "How Ukraine's Greatest Writer is Fighting for His Country," NY Times, May 24, 2022.
“A kind of Ukrainian Kurt Vonnegut.”
– Daily Telegraph
“Pathos and humor shine through to make this a black comedy of rare distinction, and the penguin is an invention of genius.”
– The Spectator
“A warm and surprisingly funny book from Ukraine’s greatest living novelist.”
– New European
“Kurkov’s prose [in Grey Bees] is as unassuming as his characters. A gentle story of survival in a war-scarred land.”
“In Grey Bees, Ukraine’s most famous novelist unsparingly examines the inhuman confusions of our modern times and the longing of the warm-hearted everyman that is Sergeyevich for the rationality of the natural world.”
– Financial Times
“Kurkov is a strangely entrancing writer.”
“A brilliant satirical take on life in modern-day Kiev. Watch out, though, as Kurkov’s writing style is addictive.”