Gogol is the greatest Ukrainian member of the Russian literary pantheon. But his artistic biography was less about cultural appropriation as radical self-disguise. On the trajectory of Gogol’s work from exoticism to belligerent Russian nationalism.
Moscow-born author who since 1976 has been living and working in London. His recent books of prose include a novel in English Sounds Familiar or the Beast of Artek (2016) and a collection of short stories in Russian No Cause for Alarm (2023).
Coming from a thoroughly secular Soviet background, the Russian-British novelist Zinovy Zinik first became aware of his “Jewishness” when he emigrated to Israel in the 1970s. In this autobiographical essay, Zinik describes how an unheimliche experience in Berlin thirty years later led him to investigate the enigmatic and chequered past of his Russian-born grandfather. An exploration of “assumed identity” in twentieth-century Jewish experience.
Anyone at home?
In pursuit of one's own shadow
Novelist and broadcaster Zinovy Zinik left his native Russia in the 1970s and moved first to Israel and then to Britain. Speaking at the Eurozine network conference in Sibiu in September 2007, he traced the history of the shadow as metaphor for exile through Evgeni Shwartz’s play “The Shadow” back to earlier fables by Hans Christian Andersen and Adelbert von Chamisso. The sum effect: a web of intermeshed émigré biographies and fictions spanning two centuries of political change.
Communism isn’t an ideology but a religion; like Christianity, it has its saints, its scriptures, and its iconography. And like the early Christians, the job of the faithful is to bring light to the world in the diaspora. Yes, Soviet Communism is just getting started. At least that’s how it seems to Zinovy Zinik, propping up the bar of the Museum Tavern, across the road from the British Museum.