Zinaida is from Odessa, a city in Ukraine where they speak Russian outside of Russia. Now she has traveled to the U.S., where they speak English outside of England. Odessa, Zina’s motherland, is motherless, her mother having abandoned their family for the American dream. Now, with Zina’s friend Valentine, she’s returning to her native Odessa, Ukraine, during the 2014 Ukrainian Spring (Euromaidan). Two Big Differences is a story of navigating identity through language. Comparative titles include The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words. Two Big Differences is a work of literary fiction and is approximately 73,000 words.
In Odessa during the Ukrainian Spring, one’s tongue can determine whether one lives or dies. Attempting to “discover his roots,” Valentine toils to find a place in increasingly sarcastic, increasingly embattled Odessa. Zinaida, or Zina, has returned to her roots, but she must reconcile with her identity in a country on the brink of civil war.
My work appears in New Madrid, Fiddleblack, The Wax Paper, Ploughshares, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and Fiction Writers Review, in which my essay “Of Translation and Politics in Russian Literature” was the most widely read piece of 2016. My still unpublished short story collection, Grow Me Up, was a finalist for the 2020 Tartt Fiction Award. I’ve judged the University of Michigan’s Hopwood Award Contest. I teach Writing at Baruch College and NYC College of Technology. I am also the founder of Kritzler Writers Group.