At Isaac Levitan’s grave, Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow.
For the past five years I have been focusing on Anton Chekhov and the cultural milieu he lived in during the last two decades of the 19th century. In 2015 Northern Illinois University Press (now an imprint of Cornell University Press) published Antosha and Levitasha: The Shared Lives and Art of Anton Chekhov and Isaac Levitan, a portrait of perhaps the most significant friendship between a writer and painter in late 19th century Russia. It is also the first book-length account of Levitan’s life and art in English to be based on Russian published and archival primary sources.
In 2018 I was asked to contribute a chapter to Chekhov’s Letters: Biography, Context, Poetics, edited by Carol Apollonio of Duke University and Radislav Lapushin of the University of North Carolina, and published by Lexington Books. The book was the first in English or Russian to be devoted to a collection of articles on Chekhov’s letters. Its editors “gathered the best Russian, British, and North American scholars and writers to offer fascinating historical background, textual analysis, and personal insight into the most intimate genre of writing—the epistolary—and the most approachable of Russian writers—Chekhov.” (Angela Britlinger, Ohio State University)
I’m now writing The Sirens of the Hotel Louvre, a portrait of theater life in the age of Chekhov that focuses on the actress Lidia Yavorskaya, the “Russian Sarah Bernhardt,” and her lover and collaborator, the writer Tatiana Shchepkina-Kupernik.
I have also recently curated two evenings of staged readings as part of the Great Soul of Russia series organized by Seattle’s Seagull Project. Sweet Lika, a two-act play based on the correspondence between Anton Chekhov and Lidia Mizinova, premiered at ACT Theater in June 2017. In April 2018 I curated and translated several stories, including an excerpt from Chekhov’s “Ward No. 6,” for an evening at ACT entitled “The Dark Side of Humanity.”