CEERES of Voices - Keith Gessen - "A Terrible Country" - Robert Bird

Monday, February 18, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Keith Gessen

“Laser-true and very funny . . . Gessen evokes not only convincingly, but indispensably, something exceedingly rare in modern American fiction; genuine male vulnerability. There’s enough heart here to redeem every recent male novel that’s aimed for it and found solipsism instead . . . You won’t read a more observant book about the country that has now been America’s bedeviling foil for almost a century.”The New York Times Book Review

A discussion with Keith Gessen, author of A Terrible Country. He will be joined in conversation by Robert Bird. A Q&A and signing will follow the event.

Presented in partnership with CEERES.

At the Co-op

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the Book: When Andrei Kaplan’s older brother Dima insists that Andrei return to Moscow to care for their ailing grandmother, Andrei must take stock of his life in New York. His girlfriend has stopped returning his text messages. His dissertation adviser is dubious about his job prospects. It’s the summer of 2008, and his bank account is running dangerously low. Perhaps a few months in Moscow are just what he needs. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn, packs up his hockey stuff, and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother, a woman who has outlived her husband and most of her friends. She survived the dark days of communism and witnessed Russia’s violent capitalist transformation, during which she lost her beloved dacha. She welcomes Andrei into her home, even if she can’t always remember who he is.

Andrei learns to navigate Putin’s Moscow, still the city of his birth, but with more expensive coffee. He looks after his elderly—but surprisingly sharp!—grandmother, finds a place to play hockey, a café to send emails, and eventually some friends, including a beautiful young activist named Yulia. Over the course of the year, his grandmother’s health declines and his feelings of dislocation from both Russia and America deepen. Andrei knows he must reckon with his future and make choices that will determine his life and fate. When he becomes entangled with a group of leftists, Andrei’s politics and his allegiances are tested, and he is forced to come to terms with the Russian society he was born into and the American one he has enjoyed since he was a kid.

A wise, sensitive novel about Russia, exile, family, love, history and fate, A Terrible County asks what you owe the place you were born, and what it owes you. Writing with grace and humor, Keith Gessen gives us a brilliant and mature novel that is sure to mark him as one of the most talented novelists of his generation.

About the Author: Keith Gessen is the author of All the Sad Young Literary Men and a founding editor of n+1. He is the editor of three nonfiction books and the translator or co-translator, from Russian, of a collection of short stories, a book of poems, and a work of oral history, Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl. A contributor to The New Yorker and The London Review of Books, Gessen teaches journalism at Columbia and lives in New York with his wife and sons.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637