Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to learn Russian in three hours.....

Karen Finney        Brianna Keilar 

Photo credit: Alfredo Flores

There was no vareniki with smetana, syrniki, kulicho or cavier bliny - but there was plenty of Vodka to make up for it.

Olga Slavnikova       John Williams Narins 
Steve Clemons of The Atlantic and Susan Glasser of Foreign Policy Magazine hosted a cocktail reception honoring a new generation of rising Russian literary stars:  Debut Prize Winners & Finalists Alisa Ganieva, Dmitry Biryukov, Igor Savelyev, Irina Bogatyreva and Russian Novelist and Debut Prize Director, Olga Slavnikova at the Glasser home.

While the honorees did speak some English, for guests it was like taking a Berlitz crash course in Russian. ... not an easy language, but the Vodka helped.

Igor Savelyev  Dmitry Biryukov  Alisa Genieva  Irina Bogatyreva

The writers (shown above) were brought to the U.S. by The Debut Prize Foundation, a Russian non-governmental organization and Causa Artium, a New York city non-profit. 
Jay Newton-Small       Maryam Bradley
"The Debut Prize has been seeking out new young literary talent throughout the world’s Russian-speaking population for over a decade.  Receiving as many as 50,000 submissions annually, it has become an important part of Russian literary life.  Debut Prize writers are transforming the Russian literary landscape and are often called The Debut Generation," explained Co-director of Causa Artium John William Narins.

Theo and Susan
The highlight of the evening was a spontaneous lighthearted plea by Glasser's young son Theo Baker to get your books fast before they ran out and that he could even get them autographed.   

The Russian delegation moved on to Napolean Bistro & Lounge for dinner where two - yes two - rounds of 24 plates were served mixing up coq au vin with sweet potato french fries.........and Vodka, of course.  It was there we had a chance to catch up with a few writers who told their stories.  Put Russia on your bucket list.

Here's to you Theo: