Yelena is the first American born to her Old Believer Russian Orthodox parents, who are building a life in a Pennsylvania Appalachian town. This town, in the first decades of the 20th century, is filled with Russian transplants and a new church with a dome. Here, boys quit grade school for the coal mines and girls are married off at fourteen. The young pair up, give birth to more babies than they can feed, and make shaky starts in their new world. However, Yelena craves a different path. Will she find her happy American ending or will a dreaded Russian ending be her fate? In this immersive novel, Zuravleff weaves Russian fairy tales and fables into a family saga within the storied American landscape. The challenges facing immigrants--and the fragility of citizenship--are just as unsettling and surprising today as they were 100 years ago. American Ending is a poignant reminder that everything that is happening in America has already happened.
Mary Kay Zuravleff is the author of The Frequency of Souls, winner of the American Academy’s Rosenthal Award; The Bowl Is Already Broken, which The New York Times called, “a tart, affectionate satire of the museum world’s bickering and scheming”; and Man Alive!, a Washington Post Notable Book. Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Washingtonian, Atlantic, and LA Times Book Review, and she has received multiple DC Artist Fellowships, including for 2023. American Ending was inspired by her grandparents, immigrants of the Old Believer Russian Orthodox faith brought here to mine coal in Appalachia.
Zuravleff will be in conversation with Alice McDermott. McDermott's latest novel, Absolution, will be published in November by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She is the author of eight previous novels and a book of essays, What About the Baby?, praised as “a master class on fiction.” Charming Billy won the National Book Award for fiction, and three of her books, After This, At Weddings and Wakes and That Night, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Harpers.
This event is free with first come, first served seating.