Alumni News

"Flashes of Modern Life"

The Imperial Wife, by Irina Reyn MFAW '06, has received widespread critical attention and praise, including an article and interview with NPR, and a review in the Washington Post

Book Cover Image

The novel uses a double narrative structure to contrast a modern Russian immigrant with Catherine the Great, and deals with the intersections between marriage, independence, and power. In the interview, Reyn draws parallel between Catherine the Great's reign and Hillary Clinton's nomination, as she notes that "The way that we talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton is not so different, have we really come that far in 300 years?"

That question and more are explored in her new novel, which defies expectation, as the NPR reviewer observes. "You'd think the marriage set in contemporary New York is the modern one, but Reyn says she saw flashes of modern life in Catherine the Great's story." 

The Imperial Wife was published by Thomas Dunne Books this July. Reyn's first work of fiction, What Happened to Anna K: A Novel, was published by Deckle Edge in 2008. She currently teaches fiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh.