|Born||February 25, 1956|
|Alma mater||Yale B.A. 1979
M.A. from Columbia.
Karl Kirchwey is a prize–winning American poet who has lived in both Europe and the United States and whose work is strongly influenced by the Greek and Roman past. He often looks to the classical world for inspiration with themes which have included loss, loneliness, nostalgia and modern atrocities, and how the past relates to the present. While he is best known for his poems, he also is a book reviewer, award-winning teacher of creative writing, translator, arts administrator, literary curator, and advocate for writers and writing. He was director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y for thirteen years and is currently a professor at Bryn Mawr College and from 2000–2010 directed its creative writing program. From 2010–2013 Kirchwey is serving as the Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome.
Kirchwey was born in 1956 and graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover in 1974 in the boarding school's first co-educational class which included jazz musician Bill Cunliffe, software executive Peter Currie, actor Dana Delany, painter Julian Hatton, writer Nate Lee, political commentator Heather Mac Donald, restauranteur Priscilla Martel, TV producer Jonathan Meath, editor Sara Nelson, and sculptor Gar Waterman. He attended Yale but described his first two undergraduate years as "unfocused and unproductive." He took a class on versification taught by Penelope Laurans which gave him the sense that he had an "ear for verse" but his work was "less than diligent" in his own estimation. He took a year off and worked at Cutler's Record Shop in New Haven. After his year off, he studied with poet John Hollander and discovered that it was possible to build a life around the task of writing poetry. Kirchwey described Hollander as a master of both English and American poetry and said:
|“||Since he (John Hollander) is a poet himself ... he conveyed a passion for that knowledge as a source of current inspiration.--Karl Kirchwey in 2001||”|
Hollander taught him that poems were more than mere creations but have an inspirational force, and gave Kirchwey greater respect for intellectual and artistic pursuits as well as for Yale university as well.
|“||Why was Yale unique? At that point it wasn't because there was a Creative Writing Program there, because there wasn't (and still isn't). Instead, it had to do with a sense that creative writing, that poetry in my case, was arising out of this superb intellectual climate where art was taken seriously.--Karl Kirchwey in 2001||”|
Between 1979 and 1984, Kirchwey taught English literature and composition at the Andover Summer Session. He also taught at the American School in Switzerland in Lugano, and at Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City.
From 1995-97, Kirchwey drove weekly between New York City and western Massachusetts, where he taught writing at Smith College. During these drives, he would listen to tapes of epic poetry, including a translation of Vergil by Robert Fitzgerald. During one drive, Kirchwey felt lost in the entangled ramps of what his grandmother had once termed the Hartford spaghetti stretch of Interstate highway 91—he described it as "bewildering, tortuous, and layered are the whorls of its entrance and exit ramps". Kirchwey wrote later how that driving experience had reminded him of Vergil's hero Aeneas who, after having fled Troy during its nighttime destruction by the Greek army, returned to the burning city to search for his missing wife Creusa but who became lost temporarily. Creusa's ghost appears to Aeneas to tell him that her death had been fated and that there's nothing he can do about it and that he must continue with his life. Kirchwey wrote how his experience in Hartford was similar to that of Aeneas in Troy:
|“||And I felt this huge weariness of the hero as he was told, with a wisdom surpassing human understanding, that he would build his life over again and found a new race in a new land ... This prophecy, the inexorability of the exchange of what one loves best for what fate will have one do, seemed so authentically to mix bitterness and rapture, my own vision blurred for a while as the lights came on outside Hartford and I continued home. -- Karl Kirchwey, writing in Poets and critics read Vergil edited by Sarah Spence.||”|
Kirchwey taught at Smith, Yale, Wesleyan, and in the M.F.A. program at Columbia. He has taught at Bryn Mawr since 2000 where he is an associate professor and director of the creative writing program, although .from 2010–2013 he is on leave from Bryn Mawr College. He teaches creative writing courses in poetry and memoir and literature courses in Classical Myth and its contemporary updates, modernist poetry, and contemporary American poetry. He received Bryn Mawr's Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award in 2003.
According to one account, Bryn Mawr in the 1990s began a project to raise the national stature of its writing program as well as "its profile in the arts" according to provost Ralph Kuncl, and Kirchwey was hired in 2000 as part of this effort. College president Nancy Vickers applauded Kirchwey's efforts to bring talented writers to lecture on the campus. Kirchwey said:
|“||My job is to put Bryn Mawr on the map for literature, and as a place to study creative writing. -- Karl Kirchwey in 2003.||”|
Kirchwey helped bring numerous writers to campus including Nobel laureates Derek Walcott, Nadine Gordimer, and Nigeria's Wole Soyinka, as well as writers such as Peter Cameron, Sandra Cisneros, novelist E. L. Doctorow, Umberto Eco, Jessica Hagedorn, Maxine Hong Kingston, James Lasdun, Peter Matthiessen, novelist Ian McEwan, Sigrid Nunez, Susan-Lori Parks, Robert Pinsky, Zadie Smith, Mark Strand, playwright August Wilson, and others. Actors Claire Bloom and John Neville did a stage reading of Milton's Samson Agonistes. A Bryn Mawr publication described Kirchwey's efforts as successful, and wrote that he diversified and expanded the creative writing program to make it a "premier stop" for writers in the Philadelphia region.
In 2010, Kirchwey was named the Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome, which is an independent privately–funded institution which encourages scholarly and artistic projects associated with the culture of Rome. Its mission is to "to foster the pursuit of advanced research and independent study in the fine arts and humanities," according to a statement on its website. He plans to serve there until returning to Bryn Mawr for the fall 2013 semester. A Bryn Mawr publication described Kirchwey's role in Italy as "shaping and articulating the Academy’s broad vision for the arts" in terms of guiding programs.
Kirchwey has written poetry consistently during his career and by 2010 had published five books of poetry. He was influenced by the civilizations of classical Rome and Greece and has a European orientation in some of his poems as well as a religious sensibility. For example, his poem entitled "Mutabor" meaning change had references to the Hindu god Parvati and Shiva and a section of the poem, which appeared in the online publication Poetry Daily, described a boy and a girl in a gorge. Kirchwey based the poem on his memory as a youth of a cold stream called the Petite Gyronne near a bridge which ran in a secret gorge between the village of Chesières and the ski resort of Villars in the Alps mountains in the French–speaking part of Switzerland. He wrote there was a place near the gorge where it had been said that "the bravest of the boys would walk the entire length of the narrow bridge-railing, a hundred feet or more above the stream bed, even (once) blindfolded." In Kirchwey's poem, the boy and the girl are lovers in a hollow near a heap of melting snow in May who "faced with the water's endlessness" and the "untranslatable grief of the bird's paraphrase" became wise in their lovemaking: "they were never wiser than in that knowledge," he wrote in the poem. In addition, events in his life, such as the death of his mother, have influenced his poetry.
Kirchwey spent from September 1994 to July 1995 at the Academy in Rome as part of the Rome Prize, and described the experience as having "completely shaped" his third book of poems.
In 1998, Kirchwey's The Engrafted Word was published by Holt in hardcover and paperback versions. It revealed Kirchwey's wide inquiry into disparate areas including obstetrics, physics, superstition, mythology, biology, religion, chemistry, and Roman history. He engrafted technical words upon each other, sometimes words which seemed initially to have little in common with each other, and magically engrafts the "past with the present", according to one reviewer.
In 2002, At the Palace of Jove: Poems was published by Marian Wood Books/Putnam's. The book had classical references and was described by Publishers Weekly as an exploration of how the past impacts the present. The magazine felt that Kirchwey's poems entitled Elegies weren't strictly about mourning but rather were "quiet inquiries into what the mind does to compensate for spiritual silence."
In 2007, Kirchwey published The Happiness of this World which included poems such as "Reading Akhmatova" in which a child's speech therapy is contrasted with a Russian poet's experience and in which Kirchwey wrote phrases such as the widening diction of experience. The book included a prose memoir entitled A Yatra for Yama which described a journey Kirchwey made through Asia which related to a family story in which a namesake uncle died in a World War II plane crash during the battle for Saipan. A yatra is a journey.
Kirchwey's poems have appeared in AGNI, Grand Street, The Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Criterion, The New Republic, Salmagundi, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Parnassus, Partisan Review, Poetry (Chicago), Slate, The Southwest Review, American Scholar, Sewanee Review, Arion, Tin House, The Yale Review and elsewhere.
While known best for his poetry, Kirchwey also wrote the play Airdales & Cipher, which was presented as a public reading at several venues, including the Appalachian Summer Festival in Boone, North Carolina as well as the 92nd Street Y. The play was based on a work by Greek playwright Euripides entitled Alcestis and won the Paris Review Prize in 1997 in the category of poetic drama. He has also read aloud the works of other writers such as Eudora Welty.
In 2010, Kirchwey has finished a sixth volume of poems tentatively titled Mount Lebanon, and there are plans for this book to be published by Marian Wood Books–Putnam's in the spring of 2011. In addition, he is working on a translation of Paul Verlaine's first book of poems which will be called Poems Under Saturn, and Kirchwey's translation is slated to be published by Princeton University Press in the spring of 2011.
92nd Street Y
In 1984, Kirchwey joined the Poetry Center as Assistant to the Director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, and became Director in 1987, and he held this post until 2000. He curated the Poetry Center's annual reading series which included writers in all genres such as poetry, fiction, non–fiction, and drama. He staffed and taught a creative writing program for nonmatriculating adults. He also curated a series of lectures by literary biographers called " Biographers and Brunch" . He instituted programs which explored connections between literature and other art forms such as music and visual arts. He was described as focusing on verse drama and presented plays by Nobel laureates Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott, as well as ones by Rita Dove. In addition, there were programs for high school students from New York City. The center won grants from the Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Fund which helped make possible a national stage tour of Robert Pinsky's translation of Dante's Inferno. There was a thirteen-part radio series entitled The Poet's Voice broadcast on WNYC radio and later on National Public Radio. The annual budget for the poetry center grew by a quarter of a million dollars, according to an account from the 92nd Street Y.
As director, Kirchwey encouraged New Yorkers to experience live readings by authors, since the format permits a "certain volatility" and spontaneity, in his view; readers benefit from hearing the author speak aloud, in person, and don't hear the usual "pre-packaged video and radio." Kirchwey said that in some situations, authors who had been prepared to read a certain passage had changed their minds at the last instant upon seeing an audience, and read something else; in this sense, the medium is more dynamic than broadcast media such as television or radio. Kirchwey commented in 1998 that he thought that more people were attending live readings, and that audiences were getting younger on average. Kirchwey introduced writers such as Alice Walker. Kirchwey has read his own poems on occasion. Kirchwey attended events such as one honoring poet Stanley Kunitz. Kirchwey formally left the post of director of the 92nd Street Y in June, 2000. Upon his departure in 2000, executive director Sol Adler said:
|“||It is with deep gratitude tinged with wistfulness that I accept Karl's resignation. He has done a great deal to honor and reflect upon the rich tradition of the Poetry Center, just as he has continued to attract new individual talents to our stage. We will miss him and wish him the very best. -- Sol Adler in 2000.||”|
Reviews of Kirchwey's poetry
A review of The Engrafted Word by writer Mary Jo Salter in the New York Times suggested Kirchwey's book of poems was transformative and elegant. Salter applauded Kirchwey's "sensual accuracies" in such poems by commenting on one of Kirchwey's poetic lines. Salter writes: "A sonogram—that routine magic whereby a mother's womb turns into a crystal ball—opens Karl Kirchwey's elegant third collection of poems."
|“||Something of desk work and pornography
through succulences of conducting gel.--Karl Kirchwey in The Engrafted Word
Salter suggested that the repeated syllables with the uck sound evoked the sound of the experience of a sonogram, including the discomfort. She described Kirchwey's poetry as being "steeped in allusions to classical mythology, history, literature. For example, she notes how Kirchwey transforms the word sinuses into Siracusa's. She describes Kirchwey's breaking up of the word hemoglobin into he–moglobin because the writer is talking about the birth of a baby boy, and Salter discusses the rhyming patterns. She notes how Kirchwey spent a year in Italy; many of the poems in this book are set there. She finds in his writing a quality of "tenderness", and sees a poet who "can't shake his shockability".
Salter compared Kirchwey to poet Marianne Moore in terms of how the "alliterative, assonant words hang heavy as lemons from their commas" and in terms of stylistic approaches such as breaking words at the ends of lines and having a fairly "loose treatment of meter." The Engrafted Word was listed as a "notable book" of 1998 by The New York Times.
Book reviewing by Kirchwey
Kirchwey reviewed a poetry book by Derek Walcott and described the Nobel Prize winner's latest collection of poems as "intensely personal, revealing a deeper autobiographical intimacy." Kirchwey reviewed poetry of Jeffrey Yang as well, writing that Yang "speaks in tongues as if touched with a Pentecostal flame" and "leads the reader through a net of allusions in poems barnacled with hard words."
Kirchwey reviewed the novel The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin in 2006 for the Chicago Tribune. The novel is about an artist–turned–party official working for the communist media as an art critic named Sukhanov whose "past catches up with him during the last days of the Soviet Union." Kirchwey wrote:
|“||Seldom has a first novel so perfectly captured a historical moment that seems most real because it resonates with the disaster of an individual life. There is no escape for Sukhanov, and no going back: There is none for any of us. Time sees to that.--Karl Kirchwey in 2006 describing The Dream Life of Sukhanov||”|
- 1997 Paris Review Prize for Poetic Drama for Airdales & Cipher
- Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America), for A Wandering Island
- Ingram Merrill Foundation grant
- 1994 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant
- National Endowment for the Arts
- 1994-95 Rome Prize in Literature
- "Propofol". The New Yorker. June 30, 2008.
- "Lemnos". Poetry. March 2008.
- "The Red Portrait". Poetry. March 2008.
- "Fireflys", Slate, July 12, 2005
- "The Tragic Sense of Life", Slate, December 9, 1998
- "Three oaks", The New Criterion, November 2006
- A Wandering Island. Princeton University Press. 1990. ISBN 978-0-691-01481-4.
- Those I Guard. Harcourt Brace. 1993. ISBN 978-0-15-190170-8.
- The Engrafted Word. Henry Holt. 1998. ISBN 978-0-8050-5607-5.
- At the Palace of Jove. Marian Wood Books––Putnam's. 2002. ISBN 978-0-399-14919-1.
- The Happiness of This World: Poetry and Prose. Marian Wood Books––Putnam's. 2007. ISBN 978-0-399-15365-5.
- The KGB Bar Book of Poems (2000)
- The Best of the Best American Poetry, 1987-1998. Scribner. 1998. ISBN 978-0-684-84279-0.
- Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry: a Bilingual Anthology (1996)
- Twentieth Century Poems on the Gospels: an Anthology (1996)
- After Ovid: New Metamorphoses (1995)
- J. D. McClatchy, ed. (2001). Bright pages: Yale writers 1701-2001. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-08944-8.
- "Faculty 2010-2011". Bryn Mawr. 2010-10-15. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Karl Kirchwey holds degrees in English Literature from Yale College (B.A.) and Columbia University (M.A.). He is the author of five books of poems: A Wandering Island (Princeton University Press, 1990; recipient of the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America), Those I Guard (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1993), The Engrafted Word (Henry Holt, 1998; a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”), At the Palace of Jove (Putnam, 2002) and The Happiness of This World: Poetry and Prose (2007)."
- "Karl Kirchwey: Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing". Bryn Mawr. 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "His play in verse entitled Airedales & Cipher, based on the Alcestis of Euripides, received the 1997 Paris Review Prize for Poetic Drama"
- "Nature & Environment". Publishers Weekly. August 12, 2002. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "At the Palace of Jove (Oct., $26; paper $15) by Karl Kirchwey. Verse explores the impact of the past on the present."
- MARY JO SALTER (August 9, 1998). "Transfigurations: Karl Kirchwey believes that the poetic word can save our souls.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Those readers familiar with Kirchwey's earlier work know him as a poet for whom the world of antiquity is as real as this morning's breakfast. The aural transformation from sinuses to Siracusa's comes from deep within the maker's sensibility."
- Karl Kirchwey (April 22, 2010). "Derek Walcott, Man of Many Voices". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "More than almost any other contemporary poet, Derek Walcott might seem to be fulfilling T. S. Eliot’s program for poetry. He has distinguished himself in all of what Eliot described as the “three voices of poetry”: the lyric, the narrative or epic, and the dramatic."
- Karl Kirchwey (December 19, 2008). "Poetry’s Shadow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "But whereas Lawrence is discursively tender, and Rexroth wry and epigrammatically clever, Jeffrey Yang speaks in tongues as if touched with a Pentecostal flame. He leads the reader through a net of allusions in poems barnacled with hard words."
- "Creative Writing Program Director Karl Kirchwey to Serve as Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome". Bryn Mawr. April 27, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "In 2003 Kirchwey received Bryn Mawr’s Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award."
- Alix Friedman (June 13, 2000). "POETRY CENTER DIRECTOR KARL KIRCHWEY LEAVES 92nd STREET Y". 92nd Street Y. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "The 92nd Street Y announces the departure of Karl Kirchwey, longtime director of the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center. Mr. Kirchwey will become Director of Creative Writing and Senior Lecturer in the Arts at Bryn Mawr College starting next fall. The Poetry Center is a program of the 92nd Street Y Tisch Center for the Arts, the Y's arts presenting division."
- JOHN SWANSBURG (April 29, 2001). "At Yale, Lessons in Writing and in Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Karl Kirchwey, who graduated from Yale in 1979, recently became the director of creative writing at Bryn Mawr College, after having run the Unterberg Poetry Center at the 92nd Street Y for over a decade. He remembers his first two years at Yale as unfocused and unproductive."
- Sarah Spence (editor) (2001). "Poets and Critics Read Vergil". Yale University. ISBN 0-300-08376-9. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "see pages 184-185"
- Karen Heller (May 1, 2003). "Bryn Mawr shows creative side as it makes way for arts". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "And that's fine by Karl Kirchwey. "My job is to put Bryn Mawr on the map for literature, and as a place to study creative writing," says the long, lanky, passionate poet in command of an astonishing Rolodex. The author of four books of poetry, many inspired by classical literature, and a graduate of Yale and Columbia, Kirchwey has been awarded Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts and Ingram Merrill fellowships, as well as the vaunted Rome Prize in Literature. In the three years since the 47-year-old poet left the famed Unterberg Poetry Center at New York's 92nd Street Y, Kirchwey has quietly, but quickly, increased attention to the written word on the sylvan, suburban campus."
- "Mission statement". American Academy in Rome. 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2010-10-18. "The mission of the American Academy in Rome, founded in 1894, is to foster the pursuit of advanced research and independent study in the fine arts and humanities."
- Karl Kirchwey (November 2009). "Mutabor: The Gorge". Poetry Daily. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "They went down to the gorge of the Petite Gryonne ... in May, this was, a boy and a girl ... a hollow melted in it like the cave where immortal Parvati ... rubbed her own skin to make the jovial god... (from Mutabor: The Gorge by Karl Kirchwey)"
- Karl Kirchwey (March 2008). "The Red Portrait". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Last night she came to me, my mother, dead: but as she was in the photo, that last Christmas ... ... I told her how her life had informed mine, and I begged her to come to me again ... ... But she smiled at me and began to fade. -- Karl Kirchwey"
- Libby Larsen (April 10, 2000). "Customer reviews". Amazon. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Kirchwey does an amazing job of synthesizing ideas from a number of spheres- such as obstetrics, physics, superstition, mythology, biology, religion, chemistry, Roman history and poetry. Kirchwey accomplishes said task by engrafting technical words upon each other, words that outwardly have little in common. Moreover, Kirchwey's great use of setting enables me to feel the location of each poem."
- Carl Rosin (February 23, 2008). "Customer Reviews". Amazon. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "I am especially fond of "Reading Akhmatova", in which a child's speech therapy runs through a book of the Russian poet's far-from-childish words and themes. We adults hear things in Akhmatova -- this poem has a literariness that seems typical of Kirchwey's work -- that clangs against the child's innocent enunciation of the words. The "widening diction of experience" evoked here is one of those rare lines (in modern poetry) with staying power for me -- it has resonated with me for weeks."
- Bob Summer (April 12, 1999). "Volume 245 Issue". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Notable, too, was the unusually large audience drawn to New York City's 92nd St. Y for the Library's launch event, an evening of readings of the honoree's stories by Ann Beattie, Ford, Randall Kenan, Karl Kirchwey (substituting for William Maxwell),"
- "Director Named At 92nd Street Y". The New York Times. March 25, 2000. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Frederick Noonan, director of the Y's musical programs, and Karl Kirchwey, director of the poetry center, are to continue to direct their departments."
- GLENN COLLINS (October 23, 1989). "When the Writers Read, the Readers Listen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "There is a certain volatility about putting an audience together with a writer, said Karl Kirchwey, director of the Poetry Center of the 92d Street Y. Some authors look out at an audience and spontaneously decide not to read what they were going to. I really believe that in going to readings, people are reacting against the pre-packaged video and radio that is their normal fare and choosing a kind of live and unrehearsed spontaneity. (page 2)"
- "Introduction by Karl Kirchwey". The New York Times. 1998. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "On Tuesday, October 13, The New York Times and the 92nd Street Y presented a live broadcast of Alice Walker reading from her new novel, "By the Light of My Father's Smile.""
- "Arts Briefing". The New York Times. April 21, 2003. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "The event tonight is a concert reading of Milton's verse play Samson Agonistes, directed by Robert Scanlan and starring Claire Bloom, John Neville, Jack Willis and Alvin Epstein, as well as the poets John Hollander, Karl Kirchwey and Rosanna Warren. (p.3)"
- "SPARE TIMES: Feb. 9 - Feb. 15". The New York Times. February 9, 2007. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Monday at 8:15 p.m., Karl Kirchwey, Grace Schulman and David Yezzi will read from their poems and prose;"
- GARY SHAPIRO (June 2, 2005). "'Leaves of Grass' at 150, Kunitz at (Almost) 100". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "STANLEY'S CENTENNIAL Poet Stanley Kunitz's 100th birthday is on July 29. But friends, family, and admirers filled the Tribeca Performing Arts Center to celebrate early. Last month Karl Kirchwey, Marie Howe, Lucie Brock-Broido, Gerald Stern, and others paid tribute to Mr. Kunitz before an audience filled with poets,"
- Mary Jo Salter (August 9, 1998). "Transfigurations - Karl Kirchwey". The New York Times.
- "Notable Books of 1998". The New York Times: Books. December 6, 1998. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Poems. By Karl Kirchwey. (Marian Wood/Holt, cloth, $23; Owl/Holt, paper, $13.) Typically steeped in myth, history and literature (without neglecting doses of sensuality), these poems propose that the transformative word of poetry can save souls."
- Karl Kirchwey (April 25, 2010). "Derek Walcott, Man of Many Voices". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "The Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott’s latest collection of poems is intensely personal, revealing a deeper autobiographical intimacy."
- Karl Kirchwey (December 19, 2008). "Poetry’s Shadow". The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Jeffrey Yang speaks in tongues as if touched with a Pentecostal flame. He leads the reader through a net of allusions in poems barnacled with hard words."
- Karl Kirchwey (August 3, 2006). "'Sukhanov' a brilliant novel about price of compromise". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-15. "Olga Grushin's brilliant first novel, "The Dream Life of Sukhanov" (Putnam, 368 pages, $24.95), considers the case of 56-year-old Anatoly Pavlovich Sukhanov, whose past catches up with him during the last days of the Soviet Union."