Join us for an evening with author Keith Gessen, who will read from his new novel, A Terrible Country. A conversation with author Chad Harbach will follow. This event is free and open to the public.
Ten years after his celebrated debut, All The Sad Young Literary Men, founding editor of n+1 magazine Keith Gessen has returned with a brilliant novel about his native Russia that is sure to establish him as one of the most talented novelists of his generation: A Terrible Country.
Wise, funny, and unforgettably touching, A Terrible Country is an essential literary portrait of modern Russia that tells the story of Andrei, a young academic living in New York who is called back to Moscow on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis to care for his grandmother. As Andrei endeavors to navigate the illogic and inconvenience of everyday life in Moscow, Gessen gives us a view of a refugee’s return home and what he encounters there, from intricate systems for bribing to entire outdoor markets that must be moved for a tram and the high-stakes decisions of Russian grammar.
We see a country whose young people are grappling with the legacy of Soviet Russia, exhausted by the corruption of Putin’s capitalism, and struggling, at a steep personal cost, to create a better future. Some are working the corrupt system for personal profit. Others want a revolution, but they are reminded of a previous revolution’s violent end. After all, they are told, “That’s been tried in this country.”
A Terrible Country is a novel with enormous value and wisdom in this political moment, when so many of us are trying to be good activists as well as good partners, grandchildren, employees, and friends.
"A cause for celebration: big-hearted, witty, warm, compulsively readable, earnest, funny, full of that kind of joyful sadness I associate with Russia and its writers."
George Saunders, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo
Keith Gessen is the author of All the Sad Young Literary Men and a founding editor of n+1 magazine. He is the editor of three nonfiction books and the translator or co-translator, from Russian, of a collection of short stories, a book of poems, and a work of oral history, Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl. A contributor to The New Yorker and The London Review of Books, Gessen teaches journalism at Columbia and lives in New York with his wife and sons.
Chad Harbach is the author of the award-winning novel The Art of Fielding, which has been translated into more than twenty languages. He is a cofounder of n+1 magazine, and the editor of MFA vs NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction. He lives in Charlottesville.
Keith Gessen Photo Credit: Nina Subin