Born in 1953 in Soviet Latvia, Genis emigrated in 1977 to the United States. There he teamed with Peter Vail to write such contemporary classics as Native Tongue, a new look at Russian literature; Paradise Lost: Russian Cuisine in Exile; Americana, reflections on Russian-American cross-cultural phenomena, and Inside the Soviet Mind, aphoristic reminiscences of the Soviet 1960s. Says Genis: "Soviet rule began 36 years before I was born and ended 36 years after with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Although I was born in the middle of this epoch, I feel less a witness to it than a refugee from it. My life has always consisted of personal events, nothing historical. Which is why I dare to review the past. I am a slave to the common-sense narrative." Since 1990, Genis has been writing on his own. His books include Russian Postmodernism, new perspectives on post-Soviet culture; Dovlatov and Environs, literary nonfiction (the book was short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize in 1999); Tower of Babel, a collection of cultural studies on the fin de siecle state of the world; USA from A to Y, and Ivan Petrovich is Dead, a collection of essays published over the last ten years. In Russia Genis is widely popular as a presenter of the daily cultural program on Radio Liberty, "Above the Barriers" as well as a prolific contributor to leading literary journals. All of his books are "intellectual bestsellers."