Initiative to name NYC street for Russian-American writer gains momentum
An online petition is circulating to name a street in New York City after the Russian-American writer Sergei Dovlatov, who lived in the city for 11 years. So far the petition to rename 63rd Drive in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, where Dovlatov lived from 1979-1990, has more than 9600 signatures. If the initiative is successful, Sergei Dovlatov Way will become the first street named for a Russian writer in New York.
Dovlatov immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union because he had no chance of publishing his work there. While living in New York, he edited "The New American," a liberal, Russian-language émigré newspaper and later he was a regular contributor to the New Yorker.
In his apartment on 63rd Drive, Dovlatov wrote his most famous books. The Zone (1982), The Compromise (1983), Ours: A Family Album (1989), The Suitcase (1990) and A Foreign Woman (1991) have been translated into English. Another of his works, Zapovednik, will appear in English for the first time in March 2014 as Pushkin Hills. The book was translated by the writer’s daughter Katherine Dovlatov. Pushkin Hills will be the first new translation of Dovlatov’s work in 23 years.
In his book A Foreign Woman, Dovlatov wrote about the Russian community where he lived in Forest Hills. His widow still lives in this apartment, maintaining his archive and workspace, in the Russian tradition of creating “house museums” dedicated to writers and poets.
A memorial plaque will be hung on Dovlatov’s apartment building in the spring; other plaques to the writer already exist in St. Petersburg, Ufa and Tallinn, Estonia.
The petition needs to collect another 10,400 signatures before the New York City government will consider adding “Sergei Dovlatov Way” to the 63rd Drive street sign.