Alexander Alexandrovich Genis

Alexander Alexandrovich GenisWriter, critic. He was born on 11th February 1953 in Ryazan, but grew up in Riga. After graduating from the Faculty of Philology of the Latvian University in 1976, he moved to the USA, living in New York since 1977. He has worked for Russian emigrants’ magazines (’New American’ and others). His works have been published in Russia since 1989, and he has been contributing to Radio Freedom (as a commenter and the author of weekly shows for the ’Beyond Barriers’ series). He is the author and host of the personal column for the ’New Gazette’ and a permanent column in ’Esquire’ magazine. He is a member of the Editorial Board of ’Foreign Literature’ magazine and a member of the Booker Award Jury (1993), as well as a member of the Academy of the Philological Sciences of the Russian Federation, the laureate of the ’Star’ magazine award (1997), etc.

With P. Vail Alexander Genis co-authored six titles: Contemporary Russian Prose, Mother Tongue (after the recommendation of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation), Russian Cuisine in Exile, The 1960s. The World of Soviet Man, etc.

Since 1990 he has been working alone. The titles American Alphabet, The Tower of Babel, Ivan Petrovich Has Died, Darkness and Silence, Landscapes, Clothing and others have been published as a three-volume edition of collected works Culturology. Research. Personal (2002, 2003). In 2004 he published the collection of essays Sweet Life (Vagrius), and in 2006 – a book of culinary voyages Kolobok[1] (AST), 2008 – the book The Zen of Football and Other Stories (AST) and the volume Six Fingers (KoLibri). The collection of philological prose Special Case and album Fantiki are currently being prepared for print (AST).

Since 2004 he has been writing a permanent column for the ’New Gazette’.

Alexander Genis is the author of the text for the documentary film about the Ukrainian Revolution (’Orange Winter’, directed by A. Zagdansky).

His works have been translated into English, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Serbian, Hungarian, Latvian and other languages.


The miracle of literature lies in the fact that it is capable of delivering that inexplicable, inseparable and essential part of a human being to the reader; the part which distinguishes one author from the other. Having exhausted one’s curiosity with abstractions, we are not interested in a group of ideas, equal as cards in a deck, but the uniqueness of their sequence, the pattern, which has emerged in the marvellous arrangement of general ideas in a consciousness. Book is a proof which leads literature to its culprit. In a book, the readers search for clues left by the author. It is characterised by authenticity which reveals the presence of reality, yet not reality itself. The clue only indicates that reality has been here. As everybody knows, literature is capable of repetition. What is unique, basically, is the soul residing between the body and the text.

Alexander Genis


[1] Kolobok – small round bread in folk fairy tales.