Quick Study: Maya Kucherskaya is a literary critic, professor of literature, teacher of creative writing, and writer of fiction and nonfiction.
The Kucherskaya File: Maya Kucherskaya’s highly diverse writings cover fiction—her first novel The Rain God won the Student Booker, while her second novel, Auntie Mina, won the Big Book Reader’s Choice Award—as well as scholarly works, book reviews, and Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy, a book about Russian Orthodoxy. Kucherskaya has worked in other genres, too: she wrote a biography of Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich Romanov for the celebrated Lives of Extraordinary People series, as well as a book of gospel stories for children. She’s also a literature columnist for the newspaper Vedomosti.
Psssst………: Kucherskaya’s professional interests, as listed on the site of the Higher School of Economics, where she teaches, include Nikolai Leskov, Russian mass literature in the second half of the nineteenth century, contemporary Russian prose, and twentieth-century European literature. iIn 2015, Kucherskaya and Natalya Osipova started the Creative Writing School, which they billed as the first program in Russia to give students professional, systematic, MFA-style training as creative writers. Read more about it here.
Kucherskaya’s Places: Moscow: born and raised, studied at Moscow State University, is a professor in the philology department of the Higher School of Economics. California: UCLA’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, where she received her PhD. Iowa: 2008 resident in the International Writing Program.
The Word on Kucherskaya: Critic Mikhail Vizel, reviewing Faith & Humor for TimeOut Moscow, wrote, “Starting with scandalous tales, the author ably ignites what? Strange as it is to say it: spirituality. She is, after all, not simply a modern humanist, but also a true person of faith. And she speaks of the clergy without catching her breath. For her, they are just a part of normal, everyday life, and not some sort of exotic Orthodox hedgehogs.”
Kucherskaya on Kucherskaya: Kucherskaya discussed religion, writing, and her short story collection Lament for the Drawing Teacher in a 2014 interview with Gazeta.ru. “It turned out to be a strange little family, as though all the texts were born of the same mother from different fathers: an absurdist father, an avant-garde father, a grim realism father, and a faceless father who took off after the very first tryst… but the offspring were all raised by a single mother.”
On Writing: When asked in an interview if her novel The Rain God is autobiographical, Kucherskaya said, “It seems to me that any novel is autobiographical. All our writings are self-portraits of the soul.”
Kucherskaya Recommends: Kucherskaya is working on a book about Nikolai Leskov and has published several articles and interviews (including this one, for the Year of Literature portal) about him.