Quick Study: Yury Miloslavsky is a poet, prose writer, and historian of religion and literature who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1973.
The Miloslavsky File: Yury Miloslavsky, who has lived in emigration, in Israel and the United States, since the 1970s, writes poetry and prose—short stories, novels, and nonfiction—that covers such varied topics as crime in Soviet Kharkov and the power of an Orthodox icon. His remembrances of his friend Joseph Brodsky were written in poetry and prose. Miloslavsky’s media work has included serving as a correspondent for Radio Liberty.
Psssst………: When Miloslavsky lived in Jerusalem, he worked as Middle East correspondent for Radio Liberty.
Miloslavsky’s Places: Kharkov, Ukraine, where he was born and educated. University of Michigan, where he received his doctorate, writing a dissertation on Pushkin. Lives in New York.
The Word on Miloslavsky: John Bayley began a review of two Victor Pelevin novels for The New York Review of Books by referring to Miloslavsky as, “of all the post-1970s Russian writers, the blackest in humor, the most streetwise, most nihilistic and disillusioned. Disillusioned not only about the old Soviet system but about those who resisted it, the heroic dissidents, those ‘various Solzhenitsyns,’ as the hero of Victor Pelevin’s novel Omon Ra vaguely refers to them.” Bayley briefly notes the importance Miloslavsky’s Fortified Cities and Urban Romances, and quotes Joseph Brodsky’s praise of Miloslavsky’s writing.
Miloslavsky on Miloslavsky: When asked in 2011 why he emigrated, Miloslavsky says it was because of “a fateful misunderstanding of the situation,” adding that he had no regrets. “I began writing prose in emigration and it was in emigration that I realized I was madly in love with my native country.” He says he considered returning in the 1990s.
On Writing: In an interview with Chastnyi korrespondent, Miloslavsky called himself a “traditional Russian literaturshchik,” then, when asked about nuances of his writing, he said, among other things, that he rarely works his own biography into texts and that he doesn’t write in the fantasy/magical realism genre. He also says he writes for regular readers in the Former Soviet Union, “I know that reader and I, all of us, ended up victims of a horrible cultural and psychological shock.”
Miloslavsky Recommends: Miloslavsky wrote his dissertation about lexical-stylistic and cultural characteristics of Alexander Pushkin’s personal correspondence. In a 2010 interview, Miloslavsky mentioned rereading Pushkin’s “The Captain’s Daughter,” saying he liked it very much.
Photo credit: Natalia Volokhova, via Vavilon.ru