|A.K.A.||Tatyana Nikitichna Tolstaya|
|Is||Writer Essayist Critic Literary critic Journalist Television presenter Opinion journalist|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Journalism Literature|
|Birth||3 May 1951, Saint Petersburg, Tsardom of Russia|
Tatyana Nikitichna Tolstaya (Russian: Татьяна Никитична Толстая; born 3 May 1951) is a Russian writer, TV host, publicist, novelist, and essayist from the Tolstoy family, known for her fiction and "acerbic essays on contemporary Russian life".
Tolstaya was born in Leningrad into a family of writers. Her paternal grandfather, Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoy, was a pioneering science fiction writer, and the son of Count Nikolay Alexandrovich Tolstoy (1849–1900) and Alexandra Leontievna Turgeneva (1854–1906), a relative of Decembrist Nikolay Turgenev and the writer Ivan Turgenev. Tolstaya's paternal grandmother was the poet Natalia Krandievskaya. Mikhail Lozinsky (1886-1955), her maternal grandfather, was a literary translator renowned for his translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy. Tolstaya's sister, Natalia was a writer as well. Her son, Artemy Lebedev, is the founder-owner of Art. Lebedev Studio, a Russian web design firm.
Life and work
Tolstaya received her education at the department of classical philology of the Leningrad State University. She moved to Moscow in the early 1980s and started working in the Nauka publishing house.
Her first short story, "On the Golden Porch" (На золотом крыльце сидели), appeared in Avrora magazine in 1983 and marked the start of Tolstaya's literary career, and her story collection of the same name established Tolstaya as one of the foremost writers of the perestroika and post-Soviet period. As Michiko Kakutani writes, "one can find echoes...of her great-granduncle Leo Tolstoy's work - his love of nature, his psychological insight, his attention to the details of everyday life". But "her luminous, haunting stories most insistently recall the work of Chekhov, mapping characters' inner lives and unfulfilled dreams with uncommon sympathy and insight", and also display "the author's Nabokovian love of language and her affinity for strange excursions into the surreal, reminiscent of Bulgakov and Gogol."
She spent much of the late Eighties and Nineties living in the United States and teaching at several universities. Her novel The Slynx (Кысь Kys, 2000) is a dystopian vision of post-nuclear Russian life in what was once (now forgotten) Moscow, presenting a negative Bildungsroman that in part confronts "disappointments of post-Soviet Russian political and social life". It has been described as "an account of a degraded world that is full of echoes of the sublime literature of Russia’s past; a grinning portrait of human inhumanity; a tribute to art in both its sovereignty and its helplessness; a vision of the past as the future in which the future is now". For the twelve years between 2002 and 2014, Tolstaya co-hosted a Russian cultural television programme, The School for Scandal (Школа злословия, named after play by Richard Sheridan), on which she conducted interviews with diverse representatives of contemporary Russian culture and politics.