Zinovy Zinik is a Moscow-born novelist and critic.
Zinik lost his Soviet citizenship when he emigrated to Israel in 1975. Since 1976 he has been living and working in Britain, writing prose in English as well as in his native Russian.
He has become a British citizen in 1988. He regularly contributes to BBC Radio, the TLS and other periodicals. Of his ten books of fiction, written since his departure from Russia, four novels – The Mushroom Picker, The Lord and the Gamekeeper, One-Way-Ticket and Mind the Doors – have been published in English; Une Personne déplacée , Une Niche au Panthéon and Service Russe appeared in French translation. His prose has also been translated into Dutch, Hebrew, Polish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian and Estonian.
Zinik’s novel Russian Service as well as many of his short stories have been adapted for radio and his novel The Mushroom Picker was made into a film by BBC TV (1993). Of Zinik’s recent works, his two collections of stories in Russian about his life in England At Home Abroad (2007) and Letters from the Third Shore (2008) and the collection of essays Emigration as a Literary Device (2011) were published in Moscow. His autobiographical tale in English History Thieves was published in London (2011).
Zinik has taught creative writing at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Wesleyan University, Ct, USA; University of Denver Co. USA; Columbia University, NYC, USA.
Martina Banfi from Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milantalks to Zinovy Zinik, 2005
MB First of all, why didn’t you stay in Israel and preferred to settle in London?
ZZ I enjoyed my time in Israel (I was directing a students theatre there) for it was a melting pot of different cultures, cross-road between East and West etc. I’ve written three books set in Jerusalem. But after a year I felt I am being slotted by the local media as a “Jewish” writer from Russia. I am a Russian Jew but I don’t like ethnic definitions in literature. And I wanted to see the world. My first novel was to be published by Albin Michelle in France so I used it as an excuse to come to Europe. The BBC job had followed and I decided to settle down in London. But I still feel some nostalgic affection for Israel, for its mixture of roughness, rudeness and highly-strung sensitivity.