Join us on Wednesday, March 29th at 6:00 p.m. for a reading and discussion with Professor Maxim D. Shrayer, author of Immigrant Baggage.
Immigrant Baggage: Morticians, Purloined Diaries, and Other Theatrics of Exile by Maxim D. Shrayer
“Maxim D. Shrayer writes like Nabokov’s long lost cousin. Funny, poignant, elegant and light on his feet, Shrayer serves up a banquet of émigré pleasures and sorrows, in the new world as well as the old. Immigrant Baggage is a compact, pang-filled, hilarious marvel.”--David Mikics, Moores Professor of Honors and English, University of Houston, and author of Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker
From a bilingual master of the literary memoir comes this moving and humorous story of losing immigrant baggage and trying to reclaim it for his American future.
In this poignant literary memoir, internationally acclaimed author and Boston College professor Maxim D. Shrayer (Waiting for America) explores both material and immaterial aspects of immigrant baggage. Through a combination of dispassionate reportage, gentle irony, and confessional remembrance, Shrayer writes about traversing the borders and boundaries of the three cultures that have nourished him—Russian, Jewish, and American. The spirit of nonconformism and the power of laughter come to the rescue of Shrayer’s autobiographical protagonist when he faces existential calamities and life’s misadventures.
The aftermath of a dangerous ski accident in Italy reminds the memoirist of history’s black holes. A haunting, Soviet-era theatrical affair pushes the émigré protagonist to the brink of a disaster in a provincial Russian town. Attempting to collect overdue royalties from a Moscow publisher, the expatriate writer tips his hat to Kafka. The book’s six interconnected tales are held together by the memorist’s imperative to make the ordinary absurd and the absurd—ordinary. Shrayer parses a translingual literary life filled with travel, politics, and discovery—and sustained by family love and faith in art’s transcendence.
Maxim D. Shrayer, bilingual author and scholar, was born in Moscow in 1967 to a Jewish-Russian family with Ukrainian and Lithuanian roots and spent over eight years as a refusenik. He and his parents, the writer David Shrayer-Petrov and the translator Emilia Shrayer, left the USSR and immigrated to the United States in 1987. Shrayer received a PhD from Yale University in 1995. He is Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College. Shrayer has authored and edited over twenty books of nonfiction, criticism, fiction, poetry, and translations. Among his books are the literary memoirs Waiting for America and Leaving Russia and the collection A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas. He is the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships, including a 2007 National Jewish Book Award and a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship. Shrayer’s publications have been translated into ten languages. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Dr. Karen E. Lasser, a medical researcher and physician, and their daughters Mira and Tatiana.