Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT April 5, 2022
Online via Zoom & at
The Center for Fiction*
This event has been canceled.
Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry and Katya Kazbek come together in conversation about their two unflinching, exquisitely imaginative coming-of-age novels, each set in Moscow in the turbulent moments before and after the fall of the Soviet Union. In The Orchard, Gorcheva-Newberry’s powerful debut loosely based on Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, four teenagers grow inseparable in the last days of the Soviet Union—but not all of them will live to see the new world arrive. In Kazbek’s highly anticipated novel, Little Foxes Took Up Matches, protagonist Mitya explores late 90s Moscow, where crime, inequality, and social dogmas create a surreal backdrop to this unforgettable modern queer fable and powerful portrait of a family. Award-winning novelist Alex Halberstadt (Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus) will moderate the event.
Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry is a Russian-Armenian émigré who moved to the United States in 1995 after having witnessed perestroika and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Writing in English, her second language, she has published fifty stories and received nine Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Electric Literature, Indiana Review, The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, and elsewhere. Gorcheva-Newberry is the winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction; the Tennessee Williams scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference; and the Prairie Schooner Raz/Shumaker Book Prize in Fiction for her collection of stories, What Isn’t Remembered, which was long-listed for the 2022 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award. She lives with her family, splitting her time between New York, Virginia, and Russia.
Photo Credit: Ivan Morozov
Katya Kazbek is a bilingual Russian/English writer, translator, and editor who cofounded the online magazine Supamodu. A graduate of Parsons and Oxford’s writing program, Kazbek received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives between New York, New York, and Moscow, Russia.
Photo Credit: Ivan Cosnyrev
Alex Halberstadt is the author of the award-winning Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times magazine, Travel + Leisure, GQ, Saveur, and the Paris Review. He is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He was educated at Oberlin College and Columbia University, and works and lives in New York.
Photo Credit: Edward Burt
By Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry
Published by Ballantine Books
Coming of age in the USSR in the 1980s, best friends Anya and Milka try to envision a free and joyful future for themselves. They spend their summers at Anya’s dacha just outside of Moscow, lazing in the apple orchard, listening to Queen songs, and fantasizing about trips abroad and the lives of American teenagers. Meanwhile, Anya’s parents talk about World War II, the Blockade, and the hardships they have endured.
By the time the girls are fifteen, the Soviet Empire is on the verge of collapse. They pair up with classmates Trifonov and Lopatin, and the four friends share secrets, desires, and all the turbulent and carefree pleasures of youth. But the world is changing, and the fleeting time they have together is cut short by a sudden tragedy.
Years later, Anya returns to Russia from America, where she has chosen a different kind of life, far from her family and the bittersweet memories of her friends. When she meets Lopatin again, he is a smug businessman who wants to buy her parents’ dacha. Anya comes to the stark realization that memory does not fade or disappear; rather, it moves us across time, connecting our past to our future, joys to sorrows. This powerful novel speaks to how we experience and process grief—for a beloved friend, a cherished ideal for a country, or for youth itself.
Little Foxes Took Up Matches
By Katya Kazbek
Published by Tin House Books
When Mitya was two years old, he swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. For his family, it marks the beginning of the end, the promise of certain death. For Mitya, it is a small, metal treasure that guides him from within. As he grows, his life mirrors the uncertain future of his country, which is attempting to rebuild itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, torn between its past and the promise of modern freedom. Mitya finds himself facing a different sort of ambiguity: is he a boy, as everyone keeps telling him, or is he not quite a boy, as he often feels?
After suffering horrific abuse from his cousin Vovka who has returned broken from war, Mitya embarks on a journey across underground Moscow to find something better, a place to belong. His experiences are interlaced with a retelling of a foundational Russian fairytale, Koschei the Deathless, offering an element of fantasy to the brutal realities of Mitya’s everyday life.
Told with deep empathy, humor, and a bit of surreality, Little Foxes Took Up Matches is a revelation about the life of one community in a country of turmoil and upheaval, glimpsed through the eyes of a precocious and empathetic child, whose heart and mind understand that there are often more than two choices. An arresting coming of age, an exploration of gender, a modern folktale, a comedy about family, Katya Kazbek breaks out as a new voice to watch..
Indie Press Summer Fridays
Once a week Fridays, 4:00 pm EDT - 7:00 pm EDT July 8 to August 26, 2022
45:15 at The Center
Saturday, 4:00 pm EDT - 6:00 pm EDT July 9, 2022
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Monday, 5:00 pm EDT - 7:00 pm EDT July 11, 2022
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A Reading with the 2021-2022 Emerging Writer Fellows
Wednesday, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT July 13, 2022
Hobby Hour: Crafts + Craft Cocktails
Sunday, 5:00 pm EDT - 7:00 pm EDT July 17, 2022
Author/Editor: Taymour Soomro on Other Names for Love with Mitzi Angel
Tuesday, 7:00 pm EDT July 19, 2022
The Craft of Fiction: Charles Baxter on Wonderlands with Joshua Henkin
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT July 21, 2022
Crime/Scene: Bone-Chilling Novels for Hot Summer Days with Ed Lin, Megan Miranda, Dwyer Murphy, and Kathy Reichs
Thursday, 7:00 pm EDT July 28, 2022