Zinik was born in Moscow into a family of totally assimilated Russian Jews. He studied painting at an art school and later studied topology at Moscow University. He started writing prose in the 1960s and contributed to the journal Teatr.
He emigrated to Israel in 1975. In 1976 he accepted a job offer from the BBC and moved to the United Kingdom to work for the BBC World Service. His first published work was "Izveshchenie" (The notification, 1976); he is the author of eight books of fiction, including the novels Peremeshchennoe litso (Displaced person, 1981), Nisha v Panteone (A niche in the Pantheon, 1985), and Russofobka i fungofil (The russophobe and the fungophile, 1986, tr. by Michael Glenny as The Mushroom-Picker, 1987), as well as the collection of short stories Mind the Doors (New York 2002). My Father's Leg, a documentary novella which evolved from an essay on Königsberg/Kaliningrad published in the Times Literary Supplement, was published in the Russian magazine Ural in 2005.
He can be heard on The Forum on the BBC World Service.
- Zinovy Zinic,'Freelance,' in Times Literary Supplement, Nov., 18, 2011 p.16: 'In my childhood, I had never heard a word of Yiddish, never held a bible in my hands, and didn't know what the word synagogue meant.'
- Robert Porter in Neil Cornwell and Nicole Christian (ed.), Reference Guide to Russian Literature (Taylor & Francis, 1998: ISBN 1-884964-10-9), p. 919.
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