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Jonathan Levi

As a founding editor of Granta magazine and the first director of the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center at Bard College, Jonathan Levi introduced American audiences to foreign writers and directors from all over the world.  Author of the novel A Guide for the Perplexed and hundreds of short stories and magazine articles, he has also written libretti for four operas, including Guest from the Future, about the legendary 1945 meeting in Leningrad of Isaiah Berlin and Anna Akhmatova.  His latest novel is set partially in St. Petersburg at the 1917 premiere of Meyerhold's production of Lermontov's Masquerade, on the eve of the Revolution.

"Without raising a sweat, the Likhachev Foundation set me up with meetings with top scholars and arranged meetings I thought would be impossible.  But for a fiction writer, the unexpected discoveries are the sweetest.  On an impromptu roadtrip to Komarovo I learned not only about dacha culture but also the price of smelts.   A chance remark by a docent in the Museum of Political History led to the creation of what I suspect may be one of my main characters.  From milling with teenagers and their grandparents at midnight in Palace Square on Victory Day to watching puppetry students at the Theatre Academy and eating blinchikis in a basement cafe,  two weeks of full-body immersion in Petersburg was worth years of nosing about in books."