Maxim D. Shrayer

Maxim Shrayer

Director, Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry

Center Associate

The bilingual author and scholar Maxim D. Shrayer was born in Moscow, in 1967, to a Jewish-Russian family, and spent almost nine years as a refusenik. He and his parents, the writer and doctor David Shrayer-Petrov and the translator Emilia Shrayer, left the USSR and immigrated to the United States in 1987, after spending a summer in Austria and Italy. Shrayer attended Moscow University, Brown University, Rutgers University and received a Ph.D. at Yale University in 1995. He is Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies at Boston College, where he co-founded the Jewish Studies Program, and an associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center. Shrayer directs the Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry and chairs the Seminar on Russian and Eurasian Jewry at the Davis Center.

Shrayer has authored and edited over ten books of criticism, biography, non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and translation, among them the critical studies The World of Nabokov’s Stories and Russian Poet/Soviet Jew. He is the author of the acclaimed literary memoirs Waiting for America: A Story of Emigration and Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story (finalist of the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards), and of the story collection Yom Kippur in Amsterdam. He has also edited and cotranslated three books of fiction by his father, David Shrayer-Petrov, for the Library of Modern Jewish Literature. Shrayer won a 2007 National Jewish Book Award for his two-volume Anthology of Jewish-Russian Literature. Shrayer’s book I Saw It: Ilya Selvinsky and the Legacy of Bearing Witness to the Shoah appeared in 2013. His new book, Bunin and Nabokov: A History of Rivalry, was published in 2014 in Moscow and became a bestseller.

Maxim D. Shrayer is the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships, including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He lectures widely on topics ranging from the legacy of the refusenik movement and the experience of ex-Soviet Jews in America to Shoah literature and Jewish-Russian culture.
Shrayer lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Dr. Karen E. Lasser, a medical researcher and physician, and their two daughters. They divide their time between Brookline and South Chatham.

Literature of Russia and the Soviet Union
Jewish-Russian literature
Russian emigre literature
Jewish culture and history in Diaspora
literary translation and multilingual writers
the Shoah in the USSR
Current Project
“Witnessing the Shoah in the USSR”
Foreign Language


, Russian Literature
, Yale University
Selected Publications

With or Without You: The Prospect for Jews in Today's Russia (Academic Studies Press, 2017).

Bunin i Nabokov. Istoriia sopernichetva (Moscow: Alpina Non-fiction, 2014; 2nd ed. 2015).

Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story (Syracuse UP, 2013).

I SAW IT: Ilya Selvinsky and the Legacy of Bearing Witness to the Shoah (Academic Studies Press, 2013).

Yom Kippur in Amsterdam (Syracuse UP, 2009).

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