Sunday, September 7, 2008

Irina Reyn

Irina Reyn is a fiction and nonfiction writer who divides her time between Pittsburgh and Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in anthologies and publications such as The Forward, San Francisco Chronicle, The Moscow Times, Nextbook and Post Road. Born in Moscow, Irina was raised in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

From a Q & A about her new novel, What Happened to Anna K.:

What influenced you to become a writer?

As an immigrant, writing was the last vocation I imagined for myself. In fact, I avoided it as long as I could, waiting for a calling in medicine, computer programming, or public relations. In order to allow myself to be a writer, I first had to discard or fail at every other sensible profession.

What inspired you to update Anna Karenina, specifically?

In graduate school, I took a seminar organized entirely around Anna Karenina. It was amazing how such a protracted, close reading revealed insights hidden during my previous forays into the novel. Before, Anna had struck me as a helpless, lovelorn victim of her society and time period. However, further examination revealed her to be an artful self-saboteur, overly influenced by books and suffering from romantic illusions. Vronsky fit Anna's plot perfectly, and I could identify with her impulse to dismantle a well-structured life in order to chase the narrative arc of fiction. As I read the book, I thought of people like me who arrived in this country as children, and how often we were tempted to sabotage our parents' expectations of us, to subvert the model of hard-won immigrant success. I think What Happened to Anna K. must have emerged from those considerations.
Read the complete Q & A.

Visit Irina Reyn's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Happened to Anna K.

--Marshal Zeringue