Olga Grushin cancels engagement due to illness

16Apr08

Just yesterday I received the sad news that first-time FFW author Olga Grushin will not be able to make it to Festival this year. According to English professor Chad Engbers, she’s fallen quite ill and is unable to travel. Naturally, her several sessions, including her Thursday-morning pre-Festival reading and her interview on Saturday morning, are canceled. As far as I know, the discussion she was headlining with Mischa Berlinksi on Friday morning is still on. Berlinski will have to go it on his own! Olga Grushin promo picture

I, for one, am quite disappointed at this turn of events. I’ve been watching the English department’s list of potential FFW speakers since last year, hoping Grushin would agree to be a part of this year’s event. Her first novel, The Dream Life of Sukhanov, is one of my favorite novels and I had lots of questions ready for her. Here are a few of my questions:

In the Dream Life of Suhkanov, does the main character’s last name mean something? In Russian, the word “suhka” (the “hk” is more of an “h” than a “k”) is an adverb that means “dry”. As such, the last name Sukhanov could mean “Dryman.” Was this intentional?

What was it like to write a novel in your second language, English? What drove your decision to publish in English instead of your native Russian?

Would you say that we westerners are the target audience of your novel? Are there some specific ideas or messages that you’re trying to convey to us through the story of a Soviet oligarch who suffers from madness? Do you see any parallels between late Soviet Russia and contemporary America?

To Olga Grushin, I would like to express regrets that you are unable to come to this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing, and of course, papravlyatyes!

~posted by Allison

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