The Red Daughter


“Richly detailed . . . Fact and fiction mingle seamlessly in a story of the defection and lonely wanderings of Josef Stalin’s only daughter. . . . An insightful and compelling saga of a woman desperately trying to escape her infamous past.”

—Kirkus Reviews *Starred Review*

The Weight of History: John Burnham Schwartz and Ayad Akhtar

Tuesday April 30, 2019
07:00 pm

Tags: Event


Grants entry for 1 plus $10 voucher towards any purchase at our bookstore.

John Burnham Schwartz will be in conversation with Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright and novelist, Ayad Akhtar.


In 1967, at the height of the Cold War, Svetlana Alliluyeva, the only daughter of the infamous USSR ruler Joseph Stalin, defected to the United States. The media frenzy was enormous: newspapers across the country ran front-page photos of Svetlana stepping off the plane at JFK, two of the three TV networks carried her arrival live on-air. Standing next to her in many of the photos from that day is her young lawyer, a man who’d traveled under CIA cover to escort her safely to the United States. One such photo used to hang in the house where author John Burnham Schwartz grew up—the young lawyer standing next to Svetlana is his father.

In THE RED DAUGHTER, Schwartz re-imagines Svetlana’s story, giving readers a captivating work of historical fiction that draws on years of research and elements of his father’s singular real-life experience.

JOHN BURNHAM SCHWARTZ is the bestselling author of five novels, including Northwest CornerThe Commoner, and Reservation Road, which was made into a film based on his screenplay. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and he has done extensive screen and television writing for the major Hollywood studios, including as screenwriter of HBO Films' The Wizard of Lies starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, for which he was nominated for a 2018 Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Writing. Literary Director of the Sun Valley Writers' Conference, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife, writer Aleksandra Crapanzano, and their son Garrick.



Ayad Akhtar

AYAD AKHTAR s the author of Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; 2018 Kennedy Prize for American Drama); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier and Evening Standard nominations). As a novelist, he is the author of American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.) published in over 20 languages. Recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2017 Steinberg Playwriting Award, 2017 Nestroy Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. He is a Board Trustee at PEN/America and New York Theatre Workshop.