Anatoly Naiman began as a poet in the late 1950s, as one of the circle of poets close to Anna Akhmatova. In the early 1960s, he and Akhmatova co-authored a translation of Leopardi’s lyrics. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, Naiman made his living by translation, while continuing to write his own poetry and prose.
In 1989, his Remembering Anna Akhmatova came out to acclaim, and has since gone through several re-prints, an expanded edition, and translations into numerous languages. Hermitage Publishers was the first to publish Naiman’s poetry: Stikhotvoreiniia Anatoliia Naimana and Oblaka v kontse veka. Naiman continues to write and publish his poetry, prose and criticism in Russia’s leading journals and abroad (London Review of Books, Mississippi Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review), and has garnered acclaim and controversy for his prose works, including B.B. i dr. (a novel), Sir (a literary exploration of the figure of Sir Isaiah Berlin, based on a series of conversations between Naiman and Berlin, shortlisted for Russia’s Booker Prize), and the Russian Booker Prize shortlisted novel Kablukov.
Naiman has been a fellow at Oxford University and the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and has lectured on poetry and Russian literature at many of the world’s leading universities. His publications include the novels Poeziia i nepravda (Poetry and Untruth) and Vse i kazhdyi (Each and Every One) and poetry collections Ritm ruki and L’vy i gimnasty. The Process of Eating and Conversation, with Galina Narinskaia, explores real recipes for Russian tabletalk. His most recent book of poetry is called Exterritorial’nost’.
Zephyr Press (Cambridge, MA) published Naiman’s first poetry collection in English, Lions and Acrobats, in bilingual format with translations by F. D. Reeve and Margo Shohl Rosen, in 2005. Naiman publishes his short stories and poetry regularly in Oktiabr’ and Novyi mir, “V poiskakh pravdy i krovi” (2007), “Nemnogo krasivoj svobody” (2007), “Gorod Leningrad” (2008), and poetry selections “Sviaz’ veshchei” (2008) and “Slova v uzelke” (2008). In 2008 Vagrius published a volume of short stories titled O statuiakh i liudiakh.