Shadows of Days: An Evening of Russian Émigré Fiction

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An evening of literary discovery, with readings by Geraldine James and Brian Cox

Having fled the chaos of revolution and civil war in favour of exile in Europe and beyond, many of Russia's greatest writers of the 20th century languished in obscurity and have only recently been discovered anew in Russia itself. Their rediscovery is now setting the literary world alight.

At this exciting event, readings by leading actors Geraldine James and Brian Cox are interspersed with discussion with literary experts Maria Rubins and Peter Pomerantsev, together with Bryan Karetnyk, editor of the new collection Russian Émigré Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky (Penguin Classics 2017). 

Alongside more familiar names such as Vladimir Nabokov and Teffi, the collection features newly unearthed authors such Gaito Gazdanov, Irina Odoevtseva and Vasily Yanovsky who have excited great interest in Russia. With stories of gambling, drug abuse, love, death, suicide, madness, espionage, revolution, glittering high society and the seedy underworld of Europe's capitals, their appeal is extremely broad, and their tales of personal upheaval are tragic and touching in equal measure.

The event will be followed by a bar and book stall. Later the same evening, we also present Late at the Library: Sounds of the Revolution with Gabriel Prokofiev and The Renegade Orchestra. 

Enjoy food and drink, including our guest Beluga Vodka, at the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00.  

  • Brian Cox is one of our most accomplished actors, with screen and stage career across six decades from the Royal Shakespeare Company to films include Rob Roy, Braveheart, The Ring, X2, Troy and The Bourne Supremacy.  He has played the Russian detective Colonel Grushko and General Mikhail Kutuzov in the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, while his two part BBC2 series Brian Cox's Russia follows the paths of Scots to the great country.

  • Geraldine James is another hugely acclaimed actor. Her film roles include Lena in last year’s multi-award-nominated 45 Years, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, Made in Dagenham, Calendar Girls, Gandhi and many more.  She became a household name for her role as Sarah Layton in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), and she has been a presence in TV drama ever since, event taking in Little Britain. Stage credits include the Tony Award nominated performance as Portia in The Merchant of Venice opposite Dustin Hoffman.

  • Bryan Karetnyk is a Wolfson Scholar in the Humanities at University College London. His research focuses the literature and cultural history of the first wave of Russian emigration, particularly the life and works of Vladimir Nabokov. In recent years he has also translated several novels by the émigré author Gaito Gazdanov, including The Spectre of Alexander Wolf (2013), The Buddha’s Return (2014) and The Flight (2016). He is the editor and principal translator of Russian Émigré Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky (Penguin Classics 2017)

  • Peter Pomerantsev is a Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics where he directs the Arena Program. He writes for publications including the Financial Times, Guardian,Foreign PolicyLondon Review of BooksPoliticoAtlantic and many others. His book on Russian propaganda, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, won the 2016 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, was nominated for the Samuel Johnson, Guardian First Book, Pushkin House and Gordon Burns Prizes. It is translated into over a dozen languages.    

  • Maria Rubins is an author broadcaster and Senior Lecturer in Russian Literature and Culture at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London. Her books include Russian Montparnasse: Transnational Writing in Interwar Paris (2015), Russian Émigré Writers of the Twentieth Century (Volume 317 of the Dictionary of Literary Biography (2005)) and Crossroad of Arts, Crossroad of Cultures: Ecphrasis in Russian and French Poetry (2000)


Name: Shadows of Days: An Evening of Russian Émigré Fiction
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Member: £7.00
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £7.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Friend of the BL: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546