Emil Draitser, professor emeritus of Russian at Hunter College, in conversation with Yasha Klots about his new book, In the Jaws of the Crocodile, a prequel of sort to his memoir Farewell, Mama Odessa.
Emil Draitser spent a decade during the Brezhnev era contributing to Crocodile, the major Party-sponsored magazine known for its sharp-tongued essays and cartoons. After he got in trouble for criticizing an important Soviet official, he began weighing whether to emigrate. In his captivating memoir, he explores what it means to be a satirist in a country lacking freedom of expression. His experience provides a window into the lives of a generation of artists who were allowed to poke fun at the regime and make readers laugh, as long as they toed a narrow, state-approved line. In the Jaws of the Crocodile -a prequel to Draitser's memoir Farewell, Mama Odessa -also includes several wry pieces translated into English for the first time.
is a professor emeritus of Russian at Hunter College. He is the author of several books, including Farewell, Mama Odessa; Stalin’s Romeo Spy: The Remarkable Rise and Fall of the KGB’s Most Daring Operative; and Shush! Growing Up Jewish under Stalin: A Memoir.
Yasha Klots is the author of Joseph Brodsky in Lithuania, numerous research articles devoted to the works of prominent Russian writers, and Poets in New York: On City, Language, Diaspora, a book that explores the part that New York City plays in Russian literature.