About the Author
Born in Odessa, Ukraine, to a working-class Jewish family. Emil Draitser has studied at the Odessa Polytechnic Institute and Moscow School of Journalism. Under his pen name "Emil Abramov", he began his writing career as a freelancer, contributing satirical articles to leading Soviet periodicals, such as Literary Gazette, Izvestia, Youth, and Crocodile, as well as on the Central Radio, TV, and in the satirical newsreel "The Wick" (Mosfilm).
Eventually, blacklisted for writing an article critical of an important official, he immigrated to the United States. In 1975, he settled in Los Angeles, where he earned a Ph.D. in Russian literature from UCLA. Since 1986, he has been Professor of Russian at Hunter College in NYC.
After his first book, Forbidden Laughter (1980), brought him national attention, Draitser has published over a dozen volumes of artistic and scholarly prose, including biography, fiction, memoir, literary criticism, and sociological studies. Among his books are the critically acclaimed Stalin's Romeo Spy (in paperback as Agent Dmitri), named among the year's best books by the readers of The Guardian; Shush! Growing up Jewish under Stalin, and a collection of stories The Supervisor of the Sea. (For a complete list of his books, please visit his Amazon page.)
A bilingual author, he has also published essays and short stories in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Partisan Review, North American Review, Prism International, and other American and Canadian periodicals, as well as in Russian, Polish, Belorussian, and Israeli journals.
Draitser's research and writing have been supported by grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Social Science Foundation, and numerous grants from the City University of New York. A three-time recipient of prestigious fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, he has been awarded residencies at the Vermont Arts Studios, Woodstock Art Colony, and Banff Center for the Arts in Canada.
His book, The Supervisor of the Sea, received honorable mentioning in the year’s best American surrealist story collections, and his essay, “The Death of Stalin” is included in the Notable of the Best American Essays. Several of his short stories are included in college textbooks. In 1970, back in his home country, he won a special All-Union prize for his short satirical pieces.
Besides Hunter College, Emil has taught writing courses and conducted workshops on using humor in public speaking at UCLA, the New School, and NYU. He has given public lectures and book talks at the Library of Congress, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance, Skirball Cultural Center, International Spy Museum, as well as at Princeton, Cornell, Stanford, Columbia, and other universities and cultural centers in the United States, Canada, UK, Israel, Poland, Australia, and New Zealand.