David Shrayer-Petrov
David Shrayer-Petrov
David Shrayer-Petrov (Шраер-Петров, Давид, Russian-American novelist, poet, memoirist, translator, and medical scientist; best known for his novel about refusenik
Refusenik originally referred to citizens of the former Soviet Union who were refused permission to emigrate.Refusenik or refusnik may also refer to:*An Israeli conscientious objector, see Refusal to serve in the Israeli military...

s, "Gerbert i Nelli" (Herbert and Nelly), his poetry and fiction about Russian-Jewish identity, and his memoirs about the Soviet literary scene in the late 1950s-1970s.


Shrayer-Petrov was born of Jewish parents in Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

. Both of Shrayer-Petrov’s parents, Petr (Peysakh) Shrayer and Bella Breydo, moved from the former Pale of Settlement
Pale of Settlement
The Pale of Settlement was the term given to a region of Imperial Russia, in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed, and beyond which Jewish permanent residency was generally prohibited...

 to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in the 1920s to attend college. Shrayer-Petrov spent his early prewar years in Leningrad and was evacuated from the besieged city to a village in the Ural Mountains. The future writer and his mother returned to Leningrad in the summer of 1944, his father serving as a naval officer.

In 1959, Shrayer-Petrov graduated from Leningrad First Medical School and subsequently served in the army as a physician. In 1966 he received a Ph.D. from the Leningrad Institute of Tuberculosis. He married Emilia Polyak (Shrayer) in 1962, and their son Maxim D. Shrayer
Maxim D. Shrayer
Shrayer, Maxim D. is a bilingual Russian-American author, translator, and literary scholar, and a professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College.-Biography:...

 was born in 1967, already after the family moved from Leningrad to Moscow. From 1967 to 1978 Shrayer-Petrov worked as a researcher at the Gamaleya Institute of Microbiology in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. He was fired from a senior research position after his decision to apply for an exit visa. In 1979-1987 Shrayer-Petrov and his family were refusenik
Refusenik originally referred to citizens of the former Soviet Union who were refused permission to emigrate.Refusenik or refusnik may also refer to:*An Israeli conscientious objector, see Refusal to serve in the Israeli military...

s and endured persecution by the Soviet authorities.

Shrayer-Petrov entered the literary scene as a poet and translator in the late 1950s. Upon the suggestion of Boris Slutsky
Boris Slutsky
Boris Slutsky was a Soviet poet of Russian language.Lived his childhood and youth in Harkov. In the year 1937 entered the law institute of Moscow, and since1939 studied also at the Institute of literature "Maxim Gorky" till 1941....

, the poet adopted the penname David Petrov. This assimilatory gesture did not simplify the publication of Shrayer-Petrov’s poetry in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Most of his writings were too controversial for Soviet officialdom and remained in the writer's desk drawer or circulated in samizdat. Shrayer-Petrov's first collection of verse, Canvasses, did not appear until 1967. With great difficulty Shrayer-Petrov was admitted to the Union of Soviet Writers in 1976. His poem “My Slavic Soul” brought repressive measures against the author. A Jewish refusenik expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers, Shrayer-Petrov was unable to publish in the USSR; galleys of two of his books were broken in retaliation for his decision to emigrate. In spite of bullying and arrests by the KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

, Shrayer-Petrov’s last Soviet decade was productive; he wrote two novels, several plays, a memoir, and many stories and verses. He was granted permission to emigrate in 1987. After a summer in Italy, in August 1987 Shrayer-Petrov and his family arrived in Providence, RI, the home of David Shrayer-Petrov and Emilia Shrayer for the next twenty years. In Providence he worked as a medical researcher at Brown University-Roger Williams Hospital (Dr. Shrayer has published almost 100 scientific articles in microbiology and immunology). Emigration brought forth a stream of new literary works and publications. The writer and his wife currently reside in Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, MA, where Shrayer-Petrov devotes himself to writing full-time.

The works of David Shrayer-Petrov have been translated into English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, Belarusian
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

, Croatian
Croatian language
Croatian is the collective name for the standard language and dialects spoken by Croats, principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina and other neighbouring countries...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

, Georgian
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

, Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

, Macedonian
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

, Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, and other languages.

Books in Russian

  • Nevan Poems, poetry, 2011, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Lines-Figures-Bodies: A Book of Poems, poetry, 2010, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Two Books: Poems, poetry, 2009, Philadelphia, USA.
  • Form of Love, poetry, 2003, Moscow, Russia.
  • Drums of Fortune, poetry, 2002, Moscow, Russia.
  • Petersburg Doge, poetry, 1999, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Lost Soul, poetry, 1997, Providence, RI, USA.
  • Villa Borghese, poetry, 1992, Holyoke, MA, USA.
  • Song about a Blue Elephant, poetry, 1990, Holyoke, MA, USA.
  • Canvases, poetry, 1967, Moscow, Russia.


  • The Third Life, novel, 2010, Lugansk, Ukraine.
  • Carp for the Gefilte Fish, stories, 2005, Moscow, Russia.
  • These Strange Russian Jews, two novels, 2004, Moscow, Russia.
  • The Tostemaa Castle, novel, 2001, Tallinn, Estonia.
  • The French Cottage, novel, 1999, Providence, RI, USA.
  • Herbert and Nelly, novel, 1992, Moscow; 2nd ed. 2006, St. Petersburg, Russia.


  • Hunt for the Red Devil: A Novel with Microbiologists, memoir, 2010, Moscow, Russia.
  • Vodka and Pastries: A Novel with Writers, memoir-novel, 2007, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Genrikh Sapgir: Avant-Garde Classic, criticism and biography, with Maxim D. Shrayer, criticism, 2004, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Gold-Domed Moscow, memoir-novel, 1994, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • Friends and Shadows, memoir-novel, 1989, New York, NY, USA.
  • "Poetry and Labor", essays, 1977, Moscow, Russia.
  • Poetry and Science, essays, 1974, Moscow, Russia.

Edited by

  • Genrikh Sapgir
    Genrikh Sapgir
    Genrikh Sapgir was a Russian poet and fiction writer.-Biography:He was born in Biysk to a family of a Moscow engineer on a business trip. The family returned to Moscow fairly soon....

    , Shorter and Longer Poems
    , co-edited with Maxim D. Shrayer
    Maxim D. Shrayer
    Shrayer, Maxim D. is a bilingual Russian-American author, translator, and literary scholar, and a professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College.-Biography:...

    , 2004, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Books in English

  • Jonah and Sarah: Jewish Stories of Russia and America, 2003, Syracuse, NY.
  • Autumn in Yalta: A Novel and Three Stories, 2006, Syracuse, NY.


2007), 1056-1062.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.