January 9, 1975
Moscow, Soviet Union
Syracuse University (did not graduate)
Keith A. Gessen (born January 9, 1975) is a Russian-born American novelist, journalist, and co-editor of n+1, a thrice-yearly magazine of literature, politics, and culture based in New York City.
Born Konstantin Gessen into an Ashkenazi Jewish family in Moscow, Soviet Union, he and his parents and sister moved to the United States in 1981. They settled in the Boston area, living in Brighton, Brookline and Newton, Massachusetts.
Gessen's mother was a literary critic and his father is a computer scientist now specializing in forensics. His siblings are Masha Gessen, Daniel Gessen and Philip Gessen. His maternal grandmother, Ruzya Solodovnik, was a Soviet government censor of dispatches filed by foreign reporters such as Harrison Salisbury; his paternal grandmother, Ester Goldberg Gessen, was a translator for a foreign literary magazine.
Gessen graduated from Harvard College, where his major was History and Literature. Gessen completed the course work for his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Syracuse University in 2004 but did not receive a degree, having failed to submit "a final original work of fiction".
Gessen has written about Russia for The New Yorker, The London Review of Books, The Atlantic, and the New York Review of Books. In 2004–2005, he was the regular book critic for New York magazine. In 2005, Dalkey Archive Press published Gessen's translation of Svetlana Alexievich's Tchernobylskaia Molitva (Voices from Chernobyl), an oral history of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In 2009, Penguin published his translation (with Anna Summers) of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales.
Gessen's first novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men, was published in April 2008 and received mixed reviews. Joyce Carol Oates wrote that "in this debut novel there is much that is charming and beguiling, and much promise", and Jonathan Franzen has said of Gessen, "it's so delicious the way he writes. I like it a lot." New York Magazine, on the other hand, called it "self-satisfied" and "boringly solipsistic".
In 2010, Gessen edited and introduced Diary of a Very Bad Year: Confessions of an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager, a book about the financial crisis.
In 2011, Gessen became involved in the Occupy Movement in New York City. He co-edited the OCCUPY! Gazette (a newspaper reporting on Occupy Wall Street and sponsored by n+1 magazine). On November 17, 2011, Gessen was arrested by the New York City police while covering and participating in an Occupy Wall Street protest at the New York Stock Exchange. He wrote about his experience of arrest for The New Yorker.
In 2015, Gessen co-edited City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis which was named a Best Summer Read of 2015 by Publishers Weekly.
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- Boston University website
- Joanna Smith Rakoff. "Talking with Masha Gessen, Newsday, January 2, 2005.
- Keith Gessen on Rediscovering Russia, "Big Think" May 13, 2008
- Gabriel Sanders, "Faces Forward: Author Tells Tale of Her Grandmothers' Survival", Forward, December 10, 2004
- Itzkoff, Dave (April 27, 2008). "A Literary Critic Drops His Ax and Picks Up His Pen". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- Overstepping the bounds: how blogger Emily Gould has been oversharing The Guardian. 14 December 2014.
- Downtown Express magazine story on Gessen
- Wickett, Dan (March 6, 2005). "Interview with Keith Gessen". Emerging Writers' Forum. Retrieved June 27, 2007.
- New York Books review of Gessen
- Jonathan Franzen praise of Gessen's writing
- New York Magazine review of All the Sad Young Literary Men
- D. Garner, Here’s Why the Cookie Crumbled. July 13, 2010.
- New York Inquirer 2006 interview with Gessen about n+1
- Young Manhattanite 2008 interview with Gessen
- New York Times profile of Gessen, April 27, 2008
- "Here’s Why the Cookie Crumbled" Dwight Garner, The New York Times, July 13, 2010