Prescott won the 2016 Crazyhorse Fiction Prize for the first chapter of her gripping debut novel, which uses historical details to tell the story of Sally and Irina, two well-educated women who are sprung from the CIA’s typing pool to smuggle the manuscript of Dr. Zhivago out of the Soviet Union so it can be published. Intercutting Sally and Irina’s adventures—one is already an accomplished spy and the other is learning fast—with scenes from the lives of Pasternak and his beloved muse, Olga Ivinskaya, Prescott gives a vivid picture of Cold War-era politics and social mores.
A widely published writer and translator, Croft won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for her English rendering of Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk's Flights. Her musical and nuanced debut fiction/memoir hybrid chronicles the coming-of-age of two sisters being homeschooled in Oklahoma. One suffers from a mysterious illness that often keeps her confined to hospitals, while the other, with the help of a cherished Russian tutor, shows a prodigious talent for languages that leads her away from home at age fifteen. Showing as much as telling, with full-color photographs dotting the story, Croft explores myriad kinds of language and demonstrates how words can heal and create lasting connections between people.
Prescott and Croft will be in conversation with Lisa Page, Director of Creative Writing at George Washington University and former president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.