Keith Gessen

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Keith Gessen
Born Konstantin Gessen
(1975-01-09) January 9, 1975 (age 41)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Occupation Editor, writer
Nationality American
Education Harvard University
Syracuse University (did not graduate)

Keith A. Gessen (born January 9, 1975)[1][2] 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,[3] 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[4] and his father is a computer scientist now specializing in forensics.[5] 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.[3]

Gessen graduated from Harvard College, where his major was History and Literature[citation needed]. 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".[6]

Gessen is married to Emily Gould as of October 2014[7] and was previously married.[6][8] As of 2008, he resides in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.[6]


Gessen with Russian novelist Ludmilla Petrushevskaya in 2009.

Gessen has written about Russia for The New Yorker, The London Review of Books, The Atlantic, and the New York Review of Books.[9] 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",[10] and Jonathan Franzen has said of Gessen, "it's so delicious the way he writes. I like it a lot."[11] New York Magazine, on the other hand, called it "self-satisfied" and "boringly solipsistic".[12]

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.[13]

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).[14] 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.[15][16][17][18] He wrote about his experience of arrest for The New Yorker.[19]

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.[20]


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