NYU Washington, DC hosted a conversation with journalist Andrea Pitzer to discuss her novel, The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov.
Using newly-declassified intelligence files and recovered military history, Pitzer argued that far from merely being a proponent of art for art’s sake, Vladimir Nabokov managed to hide disturbing history in his fiction—history that has gone unnoticed for decades. Pitzer's novel is a startling and revelatory examination of Nabokov’s life and works—bringing new insight into one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic authors.
The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov was published by Pegasus Books, with distribution by W.W. Norton, in March 2013. Twenty percent of the author's proceeds will be donated to organizations devoted to the study of Nabokov's life and works, as well as institutions preserving Gulag and Holocaust history.
Andrea Pitzer founded Nieman Storyboard, the narrative nonfiction site of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, from USA Today to Poet Lore. A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, she presented on Nabokov’s fiction at the Modern Language Association Conference in 2009 and has spoken on narrative journalism in the U.S. and abroad.
Nabokov emerges as a kind of documentary conjurer, spending the most productive decades of his career recording a saga of forgotten concentration camps and searing bigotry. Lolita reveals a Nabokov appalled by American anti-Semitism. The lunatic narrator of Pale Fire recalls Russian tragedies that once haunted the world. From Tsarist courts to Nazi film sets, from CIA front organizations to wartime Casablanca, the story of Nabokov’s family is the story of his century—and Pitzer shows how both are woven inextricably into his fiction.
Vladimir Nabokov witnessed the horrors of his century, escaping Revolutionary Russia then Germany under Hitler, and fleeing France with his Jewish wife and son just weeks before Paris fell to the Nazis. He repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to human suffering to write artful tales of depravity. But what if Nabokov was up to far more than readers ever imagined?
The most remarkable and insightful book on Vladimir Nabokov in many years.
- Michael Maar, Author of Speak, Nabokov and The Two Lolitas
Demolishes the false distinction between the literary gamesman we know Nabokov to be and the historically engaged writer he supposedly isn't a feat of fascinating literary detective work.”
- Christopher Goffard, Author of You Will See Fire: A Search for Justice in Kenya
The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov manages the impressive feat of being at once a wide-ranging introduction to Nabokov's life and work as well as a game-changer for those readers who thought they knew his writing cold.”
—Steven Belletto, Author of No Accident, Comrade: Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives