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Writing Russianness: Code Switching, Translation, and Definition in Russian-American Literature

enPublié en ligne le 06 juin 2013

Par Karen Ryan


Le bilinguisme, une caractéristique partagée par de nombreux auteurs anglophones d’origine russe, est propice aux interférences créatrices. Cet article s’intéresse à trois moyens stylistiques (alternance de codes, traduction, définition) qui inscrivent le bilinguisme dans les textes. Plutôt qu’une typologie exhaustive, il propose une description préliminaire et une analyse de ces moyens. Le fait de mettre la langue à l’avant-plan pour créer des palimpsestes linguistiques sert un thème commun à tous ces textes : celui de la transculturalité, de ce que cela signifie d’être un auteur russe écrivant en anglais. L’interférence créatrice aide ces auteurs à exprimer leur ambivalence à l’égard de leur identité. L’opinion défendue dans ce texte est que la fertilisation croisée de l’anglais et du russe est une technique puissante reflétant la double vision culturelle de la diaspora littéraire russe en Amérique du Nord.


Bilingualism, a trait shared by several contemporary Russian Anglophone writers, offers potential for creative interference. This article explores three stylistic devices – code switching, translation, and definition – that inscribe bilingualism. It is intended as a preliminary description and analysis of these devices rather than an exhaustive typology. Foregrounding language to create linguistic palimpsests supports a common theme in these texts : what it means to be transcultural, a Russian writer writing in English. Creative interference helps to express these writers’ ambivalence about their identity. Cross-fertilization of English with Russian is, I suggest, a powerful technique reflecting the double cultural vision of the Russian literary diaspora in North America.


1Russian Anglophone literature is an extraordinarily fruitful hybrid that has blossomed in the post-Soviet period1. Some of the writers who comprise this group left the Soviet Union (or Russia) as part of the so-called Fourth Wave of emigration that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s; others were born of émigrés who came to the West in the Third Wave in the 1970s. Although their originary, or first language is Russian, they write in English in the North American diaspora2. Their work tends to be quasi-autobiographical and to focus on questions of cultural alienation and adaptation, identity, and nostalgia. At the center of this group of writers are Lara Vapnyar (b. 1971), David Bezmozgis (b. 1973), Gary Shteyngart (b. 1972), Anya Ulinich (b. 1973), Irina Reyn (b. 1974), and Olga Grushin (b. 1971). A more extensive roster would include Sana Krasikov (b. 1979), Ellen Litman (b. 1973), and Mark Budman (b. 1950), who have all authored books in English. More peripheral to the core of Russian Anglophone literature are writers such as Marina Lewycka (b. 1946), Jonathan Safran Foer (b. 1977), Michael Idov (b. 1976), and Keith Gessen (b. 1975) ; they are all of Russian (or Ukrainian) heritage, but do not self-identify primarily as such.

2Most of these writers have acquired their English fluency in immigration and are functionally bilingual. Some are entirely proficient in Russian while others, who left Russia at a younger age or were born of Russian parents in the West, are what applied linguists call « incomplete acquirers » or « forgetters. » Thus the degree to which Russian is « native » for these writers is variable, but functional bilingualism is a common denominator that shapes the style and the substance of their prose. Moreover, some of them are actively experimenting with and refining verbal devices that arise from bilingualism.

3It is significant that these writers have elected to write in English, their adopted language. Many, of course, are Jewish and left the Soviet Union with their families to escape persistent anti-Semitism. For these writers, Russian may be perceived as the language of persecution. Vapnyar, for example, has written that establishing herself as an Anglophone Russian-Jewish-American author offered a resolution to the problem of taking on the identity of the oppressor3. More broadly, writing in English may be a way of bypassing the originary or home culture. The writer’s decision to « kill » the first language4 (or at least to place it firmly in the non-writing past) may be a conscious choice. In addition, language forgetting may occur as assimilation takes place. For this generation of Russian diasporic writers, Russian language is subject to erasure; writing in English within American culture, they may need to unearth and mine Russian for it to become part of the creative process. English, moreover, may well be the post-national, transnational language of contemporary literature. As such, English belongs to everyone and to no one. It is an interesting paradox: English is both « the dominant second language of heterogeneous speech communities5 », the lingua franca for Russian immigrants in North America, but it is the language they employ to express the aesthetics of alienation.

4The notion that bilingualism detracts from a writer’s verbal proficiency has been largely debunked. There is now a sufficiently large corpus of transnational literature to suggest that writing in one’s second, acquired language may be advantageous. Bilingualism, it appears, offers the potential for « creative interference6 ». It is certainly the case that bilingualism is productive in the works of many Russian-American writers. To some degree, their art depends on the tension between the author’s originary language and the acquired language. The perspective of the bilingual writer has been called the « stereolinguistic optic7 »: hearing, drawing on, using two languages in writing (though the prose is monolingual). Theodor Adorno asserts that this double vision is an exclusive artistic asset; he writes: « Only he who is not truly at home inside a language uses it as an instrument8 ». Gilles Deleuze also sees writing in a second language as allowing productive verbal play. The bilingual writer, he says, « makes the language itself scream, stutter, stammer, or murmur9 »; he makes it the object of the reader’s attention. Bilingualism, then, is at least additive and may be multiplicative in its effects in Russian transnational prose.

5It is illuminating to examine how this double consciousness afforded by bilingualism is inscribed into Russian-American texts. To what extent Russian language is present and to what degree it makes itself felt varies from author to author and from work to work. In general, though, this is prose written as on a palimpsest. As Isabelle de Courtivron describes it, « in one tongue but always over the body and the sound of a buried language, a hidden language, a language whose ghosts reverberate in words10 ». These texts have an « in-between » quality of métissage. Not Russian but not only American, the prose of Russian diasporic writers displays linguistic refraction. To use a musical metaphor, the interaction between Russian and English is analogous to minorizing. Bilingual writers, Deleuze says, « invent a minor use of the major language within which they express themselves entirely…where the minor mode refers to dynamic combinations in perpetual disequilibrium11. »

1. Code Switching

6One type of creative interference through which Russian is productively inscribed in Anglophone texts is code switching. Directly transferring Russian words and phrases (and sometimes whole sentences) and integrating them into English prose produces the effect of creolization. Context is often sufficient to supply at least a connotative meaning for the word or phrase. More importantly, the reader is given to understand that at the moment, the narrator or character is thinking and feeling in Russian.

7In Reyn’s novel What Happened to Anna K., she depicts her protagonist Anna as a negligent and careless mother. At one point, Anna coaxes her son to repeat his first word, which he has spoken in her absence. Reyn sets the scene with Russian cultural markers and uses code switching to emphasize that her heroine is speaking Russian to her son :

« She stood, her hands folded together as if in prayer. Crocodile Gena was singing quietly on the CD ; the room was permeated with the scent of baby powder. « Pozhalusta, dorogoi, skazhi ‘Mama’ », she begged. Seryozha puckered his mouth as if in protest12. »

8The reader can easily surmise what a mother would say in these circumstances, so a translation is not necessary. In another passage, Reyn conveys Anna’s mother’s point of view in free indirect discourse, using code switching. Criticizing Anna’s lack of femininity, she says: « We Russian women are feminine, Anyechka, and look at you, with your sneakers untied and that horrible skranchi, as you call it, on top of your head? A chuchelo » (165). This is true métissage, with the word « skranchi » integrated into the English sentence but conveyed with Russian phonetic spelling, followed by the derogatory Russian word chuchelo. Interestingly, chuchelo is preceded by the English indefinite article « a » ; given the absence of articles in Russian, this combination enhances the double-voiced quality of the mother’s criticism (which is itself culturally doubled, layering Russian norms of femininity over American women’s perceived preference for comfort). Thus Reyn’s code switching expresses the cultural alienation her characters experience in the novel as they struggle with adaptation to life in the American diaspora.

9Krasikov uses code switching sparingly in her collection of short stories called One More Year, but when she does integrate Russian words and phrases into her prose, the result tends to be nuanced. In the story « The Repatriates », a couple returns to Russia after living some years in the United States. The wife is complaining to her husband about the rudeness of a woman selling eggs at the market and he responds:

« You know how these people live », he said, washing down the fish with white wine. « This egg lady probably has to get up before the roosters, use an outhouse, drive here from some huyevo-tutuyevo. Okay, so she has lightbulbs, thanks to Lenin’s faith in electricity. You want her to tell you to have a nice day13 ? »

10Though the denotative meaning of the Russian phrase is not obvious, the context is sufficient to convey both the approximate sense and the tone. As this example suggests, obscenities and vulgarisms are particularly effective in code switching. Theoretically, it would seem easier for a bilingual writer to say forbidden things in the acquired language, the language without felt taboos. Krasikov, however, is capitalizing on the shock potential of the Russian vulgarism, roughening the language and calling attention to its transgressive quality. (Shteyngart uses this technique much more frequently and repetitively in his novels, dulling the frisson it creates.) Krasikov pairs code switching in this passage with a culturally specific reference to lightbulbs and Lenin’s famous dictum that « Communism is Soviet power and electrification of the whole country ».

11Many Russian transnational writers use the filler word nu or variations on nu in code switching. Bezmozgis has a character in his story « The Second Strongest Man » say « —Nu, boy, tell me14. » Litman in her story « Dancers » has a man address his wife: « Nu, starushka, stop this silliness15… » Reyn’s Anna K. says to her father: « Nu i shto, Papa, we know, we know » (3) and in the same novel Lev opens a conversation with Katya : « Nu, i kak ? » (110). Inserting nu or a phrase with this word seems to suggest that the conversation that follows is conducted in Russian. As in a film where the characters begin the scene speaking a foreign language and the dialogue then shifts to English, we understand that even though we are hearing (or reading) English, the characters actually continue to speak in the original foreign language.

12In almost all instances of code switching, Russian words and phrases are rendered in Latin letters and are usually italicized. This is a reasonable compromise, given that printing the words in Cyrillic would foreignize them for most readers entirely; they would serve only as visual signs of otherness. Printed in Latin letters and embedded in the context of English, these Russian words exoticize the text and convey the bilingual author’s double vision. There are, however, occasional exceptions to this rule, as in Budman’s explanation of Sambo in his book My Life at First Try:

« Besides karate, I have the option of enrolling in a Sambo school. Sambo is a Russian martial art, an abbreviation of a word САМозащита Без Оружия, self-defense without a weapon. It’s as good a martial art as any, but karate sounds much more exotic. Though it’s not a Western word, it still has that irresistible foreign allure16. »

13Rendering the Russian phrase in Cyrillic is a curious choice, for transliteration into Latin letters would provide the same graphic illustration of the derivation of the term « Sambo ». Perhaps since this martial art form is uniquely Russian, using Cyrillic emphasizes its foreignness for the Anglophone reader. This seems likely, given Budman’s musing on the nuances of the term karate. Language – its visual qualities as well as its aural qualities – here becomes the object of Budman’s attention.

2. Translation

14A second category of creative interference in texts by Russian hybrid writers is translation of Russian expressions into English. Several of these writers have adopted the technique of creating English equivalents of Russian turns of speech as a stylistic feature. One kind of translation is very similar to code switching: the English translation of the Russian word or phrase is embedded in the narrative. Reyn favors this device, strengthening the conceit that her characters are speaking and thinking in Russian but their speech and thoughts are rendered in English for the reader. At Anna K.’s wedding: « The videographer could sense the rest of the guests around him stop nibbling their zakuski, no, excuse me, rather, hors d’oeuvres » (32). When Anna’s father is considering various driving routes in New York, Reyn writes: « …the Sunday of Gay Pride Parade (those naked golubye) ruled out the Henry Hudson… » (38). In a Russian bookstore, a salesman addresses Anna: « The young man noticed her expression. ‘Shto s vami ?’ What’s wrong with you? he said unkindly… » (227). Bezmozgis rarely includes Russian, so that its appearance in his prose tends to express heightened emotion. Belatedly mourning his grandmother’s death in the story « Choynski », his narrator « wailed in Russian: Babushka, babushka, g’dye tih, maya babushka? Babushka, babushka, where are you, my babushka17 ? » Litman uses translation of a single word to give emotional nuance to the exchange between a grandfather and (Americanized) grandson:

« Pavlik was there, too – eight years old, soft and doughy. « Come give your grandpa a hug », said Dinka. He did. He said, « Hello, Dedushka…Grandpa ». The stress was on the wrong syllable, and it hurt Liberman to know that the boy spoke Russian with an accent18. »

15Sometimes phrases of translated Russian are cued as such; we are prepared for verbal estrangement by the author’s explanation. Budman is especially fond of this device : « As they say in Russia, he ate a dog on this subject » (131) ; « As they say in Russian, ‘The husband and wife are the same devil’ » (149) ; « I should kick his ass, or as we say in Russia, tear off his muzzle » (59). In Litman’s stories, her narrator often tells us explicitly when she is speaking Russian and thus explains the strangeness of the language: « ‘Everything is normal’, I say in Russian, and make a clown face19 » ; « He shivered and said, ‘Firs-and-sticks ! They’re not in a rush here are they?’ He was speaking in Russian. To me20. » Ulinich lets the reader know she is translating an idiom in a passage where her protagonist Sasha muses on the literal meaning of the phrase: « ‘A bear stepped on her ear’, Mrs. Goldberg complained to the neighbors, and Sasha thought about the weight of the bear and whether in stepping on her ear the animal would also destroy her head, cracking it like a walnut21 ». The reader who does not know Russian, like the child who overhears her mother using the expression, must infer its meaning. Ulinich lays bare the literal sense of the idiom so that language becomes the focus; it calls attention to itself as translation. Occasionally Russian-American authors will place translated phrases in quotation marks or italics, signifying that they are literal renditions of Russian idioms. Vapnyar, for example, describes nine-story gray apartment buildings (khrushchevki) in Moscow in the story « Lydia’s Grove »: « People called them ‘fallen skyscapers’22 ». In the story « A Bunch of Broccoli on the Third Shelf », a character’s husband has left her and « had been seen on Brighton Beach with some ‘dried herring’23 ». In her story « What Do You Dream Of, Cruiser Aurora? », Litman’s narrator paraphrases a character’s complaining: « She grumbled how far it was, somewhere in the devil’s antlers » (53). The approximate meaning is clear even to a non-Russian reader and the idiom is recast in English as a striking metaphor.

16In addition to these instances of translation where the author « bares the device », there are many cases of direct translation that are unmarked. These often sound idiosyncratic; they contribute to the effect of verbal defamiliarization favored by these writers. In Vapnyar’s Memoirs of a Muse, news of a death is made more shocking through this technique of creative interference: « My uncle sat by the phone with his plump notebook, calling everybody he knew, saying a formal, ‘My mother has ended’. Ended. As if she were a book or a movie24 ». Sasha, the protagonist of Ulinich’s Petropolis, asks her mother when the electricity will be turned back on in their decaying city and she replies « When the lobster whistles on the hill » (275). Krasikov is particularly adept with this device; in many of her stories, she expresses cultural alienation through her unmarked translations of Russian phrases. In the story « Asal », a character who has been transplanted to New York City watches a Frisbee game in the park: « …a game going on between shirtless young men chasing a flying disk and a team still wearing their clothes25 ». A scandal in the émigré community causes gossip and Krasikov writes « somewhere in the world tongues were already flapping » (96). One of her characters in « The Repatriates » has returned to Moscow to contribute to post-Soviet reconstruction and Krasikov describes his ambitions using literal translation of a Russian idiom : « He’d build not only wealth for himself but a better life for the doctors and schoolteachers in deaf provinces… » (155). Bezmozgis and Budman both translate the Russian form of address molodoi chelovek without explicit commentary. In Bezmozgis’ story « Minyan », a character says to the narrator: « Young person…could you bring me some water? The devil has me by the throat26 ». The literal translation calls attention to the phrase and conveys to an Anglophone reader some of the abrupt, imperative quality of molodoi chelovek. In general, translation tends to remind us of the peculiar métissage of language and culture that underlies these texts. Any obstacle to comprehension is more than offset by the striking stylistic effect achieved.

17Sayings and proverbs are, of course, a rich linguistic resource in Russian and translation of pogovorki is a particularly productive variant of creative interference. These translations are arresting in English; they call attention to themselves as foreign and exotic. Remembering his first-grade textbook, Budman muses on the inflexibility of Soviet education, translating the Russian proverb directly: « What’s written by a pen can’t be struck out by an ax » (7). Describing a demonstration in Moscow likely to erupt in violence, he notes ironically « As Stalin used to say, ‘If you cut wood, don’t worry about splinters’ » (58). Krasikov’s narrator cues the reader that she is translating literally when she says « Whenever I think about what happened, I get stuck on that old proverb – look not where you fell but where you slipped27 ».

3. Definition

18A third type of creative interference used by these bilingual writers is definition: providing a gloss within the text to the meaning of a Russian word or phrase used by the author. In many cases, the definition itself is a source of irony or humor. Budman often provides neutral definitions of Russian terms he uses in his narrative; he explains that sharovary are « loose cotton pants » (13) and shaikas (an anglicized plural) are « the bathing pans used in traditional Russian baths » (34). But sometimes he digresses on the cultural differences underlying a definition:

19« My English professor says that the word « dormitory » comes from the Latin « to sleep ». I know that the Russian equivalent, obshezhitie, means « common living ». While the English-speaking students sleep in their dorms, if they choose, their Russian counterparts, according to the creator of the term obshezhitie, can’t afford this luxury. (35-36) »

20Reyn executes a similar turn in What Happened to Anna K., subjecting a word to irony even as she defines it. Anna wonders about her sense of alienation: « Does it have something to do with this toska everyone talks about, an irrepressible longing for the Motherland, a misty-eyed nostalgia for God-knows-what, God-knows-when ? » (13). Reyn’s definition of toska from Anna’s perspective underscores her problem of identity, her liminality in respect both to Russian and American cultures.

21Krasikov, in using definition, provides less ironic, more nuanced evocations of Russian culture. A character who chooses to follow her husband when he decides to return to Moscow in the story « Repatriates » is called Dekabristka by her daughter, and Krasikov explains the term in some detail : « her devotion was like that of the Decembrist wives who followed their men to Siberia after their uprising against the monarchy » (155). In the story « There Will Be No Fourth Rome », a young woman who spends time in Russia searching for her roots describes having tea with her host as she prepares to leave : « She’d pulled out her podstokaniki, the silver-plated filigree glass holders, beautiful things engraved with trelliswork » (229). Here the narrator’s nostalgia, her attachment to a Russia effectively lost to her is made palpable through definition.

22Litman uses definition to characterize the Russian immigrants whose voices we hear in her stories. Definitions of the Russian terms she uses tend to contribute to the restrained tone of her prose. In « Dancers », she gives us a conversation between a young man and his wife: « ‘Don’t you panic, starushka’, said Petya. He called her that sometimes, starushka, a little old lady. She had recently turned twenty-six » (108). Litman conveys a Russian man’s fear and frustration about his wife’s illness by defining his insult in « Among the Lilacs and the Girls »: « ‘Bezdelnik’, he says about Knutchek, when Masha hangs up. ‘Deadbeat. The moment your mother gets well, I’m switching to another doctor’28 ».

4. Conclusions

23The three techniques treated in this paper – code switching, translation, and definition – do not by any means constitute an exhaustive typology of creative interference. Rather, this study is intended as a preliminary description and analysis of some of the ways bilingualism is productively inscribed in Russian transnational literature. The cross-fertilization of English with Russian creates linguistic palimpsests, where Russian underlies and affects the English of the texts. This situation reflects the double vision of the contemporary Russian diaspora in North America. Bilingualism has become both form and substance for these writers. In the examples adumbrated (and in many other cases) language calls attention to itself; it becomes the object of the narrative. These works ponder what it is to be translingual and transcultural, a Russian writer writing in English in North America. Like other examples of translingual literature, Russian hybrid works express ambiguity or fluidity of identity. In an essay about bilingualism called « Less Than One », Joseph Brodsky noted that Russian cultural interactions defy description in English : « At least it’s been my impression that any experience coming from the Russian realm, even when depicted with photographic precision, simply bounces off the English language, leaving no visible imprint on its surface29 ». Writers of the new Russian diaspora are finding ways to inscribe Russianness – Russian language, culture, and worldview – into Anglophone texts, leaving a very significant and striking imprint.



Beaujour, Elizabeth Klosty, Alien Tongues. Bilingual Russian Writers of the « First » Emigration, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989.

Bezmozgis, David, Natasha and Other Stories, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.

Brodsky, Joseph, « Less Than One », in Less Than One. Selected Essays, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986, p. 3-33.

Budman, Mark, My Life at First Try, Berkeley, Counterpoint, 2008.

Deleuze, Gilles. « He Stuttered », in Essays Critical and Clinical, translated by Daniel W. Smith and Michael A., Greco, London, Verso, 1998, p. 107-114.

Hoffman, Eva, « P.S. », in Lives in Translation. Bilingual Writers on Identity and Creativity, Isabelle de Courtivron (ed.), New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 49-55.

Kellman, Steven G., The Translingual Imagination, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Krasikov, Sana, One More Year, New York, Spiegel and Grau, 2008.

Lambert, W. E., « Bilingualism and Language Acquisition », in Native Language and Foreign Language Acquisition, Harris Winitz (ed.), New York, New York Academy of Sciences, 1981, p. 9-22.

Litman, Ellen, The Last Chicken in America, New York, Norton, 2007.

Reyn, Irina, What Happened to Anna K, New York, Touchstone, 2008.

Steiner, George, Extraterritorial. Papers on Literature and the Language Revolution, New York, Atheneum, 1971.

Ulinich, Anya. Petropolis, New York, Viking, 2007.

Vapnyar, Lara, Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, New York, Pantheon, 2008.

Vapnyar, Lara, Memoirs of a Muse, New York, Vintage, 2006.

Vapnyar, Lara, There Are Jews In My House, New York, Anchor, 2004.

Vapnyar, Lara, « The Writer as Tour Guide », in The Writer Uprooted. Contemporary Jewish Exile Literature, Alvin H. Rosenfeld (ed.), Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2008, p. 92-109.

Wanner, Adrian, Out of Russia. Fictions of a New Translingual Diaspora, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 2011.


1  A notable predecessor of the current generation of Russian Anglophone writers is Vladimir Nabokov, a First Wave émigré who wrote prolifically and brilliantly in English. Other less striking examples of earlier Russian Anglophone writers, such as Ayn Rand, may also be adduced.

2  This paper treats Russian-American literature, but there are analogous Russian-French, Russian-German, and Russian-Israeli literatures. See Adrian Wanner, Out of Russia. Fictions of a New Translingual Diaspora, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 2011.

3  Lara Vapnyar, « The Writer as Tour Guide », in The Writer Uprooted. Contemporary Jewish Exile Literature, Alvin H. Rosenfeld (ed.), Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2008, p. 92-109.

4  This expression is used by Eva Hoffman in her essay « P.S. », in Lives in Translation. Bilingual Writers on Identity and Creativity, Isabelle de Courtivron (ed.), New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 50.

5  Steven G. Kellman, The Translingual Imagination, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 2000, p. 8.

6  Elizabeth Klosty Beaujour, Alien Tongues. Bilingual Russian Writers of the « First » Emigration, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989, p. 56.

7  W. E. Lambert, « Bilingualism and Language Acquisition », in Native Language and Foreign Language Acquisition, Harris Winitz (ed.), New York, New York Academy of Sciences, 1981, p. 12.

8  Quoted in George Steiner, Extraterritorial. Papers on Literature and the Language Revolution, New York, Atheneum, 1971, p. 5.

9  Gilles Deleuze, « He Stuttered », in Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco, London, Verso, 1998, p. 110.

10  De Courtivron, Lives in Translation, p. 7.

11  Deleuze, « He Stuttered », p. 109.

12  Irina Reyn, What Happened to Anna K., New York, Touchstone, 2008, p. 98. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

13  Sana Krasikov, « The Repatriates », in One More Year, New York, Spiegel and Grau, 2008, p. 161-62. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

14  David Bezmozgis, « The Second Strongest Man », in Natasha and Other Stories, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004, p. 62.

15  Ellen Litman, « Dancers », in The Last Chicken in America, New York, Norton, 2007, p. 127. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

16  Mark Budman, My Life at First Try, Berkeley, Counterpoint, 2008, p. 43. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

17  Bezmozgis, « Choynski », in Natasha and Other Stories, p. 126.

18  Litman, « What Do You Dream Of, Cruiser Aurora ? », in The Last Chicken in America, p. 37. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

19  Litman, « In the Man-Free Zone », in The Last Chicken in America, p. 77.

20  Litman, « Russian Club », in The Last Chicken in America, p. 91.

21  Anya Ulinich, Petropolis, New York, Viking, 2007, p. 4. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

22  Lara Vapnyar, « Lydia’s Grove », in There Are Jews In My House, New York, Anchor, 2004, p. 64.

23  Lara Vapnyar, « A Bunch of Broccoli on the Third Shelf », in Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, New York, Pantheon, 2008, p. 16.

24  Lara Vapnyar, Memoirs of a Muse, New York, Vintage, 2006, p. 21.

25  Krasikov, « Asal », in One More Year, p. 90. Page numbers of additional citations from this work will be indicated in parentheses in the text.

26  Bezmozgis, « Minyan », in Natasha and Other Stories, p. 136.

27  Krasikov, « There Will Be No Fourth Rome », in One More Year, p. 187.

28  Litman, « Among the Lilacs and the Girls », in The Last Chicken in America, p. 168.

29  Joseph Brodsky, « Less Than One », in Less Than One. Selected Essays, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986, p. 30.

Pour citer cet article

Karen Ryan (2013). "Writing Russianness: Code Switching, Translation, and Definition in Russian-American Literature". Revue du Centre Européen d'Etudes Slaves - Numéro 2 | La revue | Imaginaire slave et espaces interculturels : déplacements, échanges, rencontres.

[En ligne] Publié en ligne le 06 juin 2013.

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Consulté le 28/04/2017.

A propos des auteurs

Karen Ryan

Karen Ryan est une spécialiste de la satire littéraire russe au XXe siècle. Son livre Contemporary Russian Satire : A Genre Study s’intéresse à la parodie de genre dans la satire de l’époque poststalinienne (Iskander, Venedikt Erofeev, Limonov, Dovlatov, Voinovich). Son ouvrage le plus récent, Stalin in Russian Satire, 1917-1991, porte sur les images de Staline dans la satire et sur les dynamiques qui sous-tendent la désignation de boucs émissaires, la liminalisation et la catharsis sociale. Parmi ses autres publications, on compte une monographie sur le feuilleton journalistique à l’époque de la glasnost’ et de nombreux articles sur la littérature satirique russe. La professeure Ryan a également dirigé un recueil d’articles sur Moskva-Petushki de Venedikt Erofeev. Elle travaille en ce moment à une série d’articles et de communications sur la littérature transnationale russe (Lara Vapnyar, David Bezmozgis, Gary Shteyngart et Sana Krasikov, notamment).  Elle examine les questions de la nostalgie, du genre, de la langue, de l’identité religieuse et de l’altérité dans les œuvres de ces nouveaux auteurs hybrides. Karen Ryan est doyenne (Dean) du College of Arts and Sciences de l’université Stetson à DeLand, en Floride. De 1989 à 2012 elle a enseigné à l’Université de Virginie, où elle a été directrice du département des langues et littératures slaves, vice-doyenne (Associate Dean) des Arts, Humanités et Sciences sociales et doyenne intérimaire du College of Arts and Sciences.Publications (sélection) : Stalin in Russian Satire, 1917-1991, Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 2009 ; Contemporary Russian Satire : A Genre Study, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995 ; Russian Publicistic Satire : The Contemporary Journalistic Feuilleton, Lewiston, Edwin Mellen Press, 1993 ; Twentieth-Century Russian Literature : Proceedings of the V World Congress of Central and East European Studies (ed.), Houndmills, Macmillan, 2000 ; Venedikt Erofeev’s Moscow—Petushki : Critical Perspectives (ed.), New York, Peter Lang, 1997 ; « Failures of Domesticity in Contemporary Russian-American Literature : Vapnyar, Krasikov, Ulinich, and Reyn », TranscUlturAL, 1.4, 2011 ; « Vladimir Voinovich and Soviet/Émigré/Post-Soviet Satire : A Case Study », Uncensored?  Reinventing Humor and Satire in Post-Soviet Russian, Olga Mesropova and Seth Graham (eds.), Bloomington, Slavica, 2008.

Numéro 2 - L'imaginaire slave dans la culture, la société et le langage

Le second numéro de la Revue du CEES est le fruit d’une collaboration entre le Centre Européen d’Études Slaves et le Réseau québécois d’études slaves (RQES). La majorité des articles qui y sont présentés sont issus du premier colloque du RQES, qui a eu lieu à l’université McGill, à Montréal, les 24 et 25 mars 2011. Fondé à l’initiative de jeunes chercheurs dans le but de favoriser les échanges entre les slavistes du Québec et du reste du monde, le RQES se veut pluridisciplinaire, interdisciplinaire et multilingue.


Revue du Centre Européen d'Etudes Slaves

Université de Poitiers
Maison des Sciences de l'Homme et de la Société
Bâtiment A5
5, rue Théodore Lefebvre
86000 Poitiers - France


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ISSN électronique : 2274-7397

Dernière mise à jour : 16 mars 2017

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