Episode 65: Boris Dralyuk on Nabokov’s Pnin

In this episode, I speak with my colleague at TU, Boris Dralyuk on Vladmir Nabokov’s delightful take on the campus novel, Pnin.  We explore our endearing hero’s journey from being a man on the wrong train to becoming an American behind the wheel at long last.  I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Boris Dralyuk is a poet, translator, and critic. He holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from UCLA, and has taught there and the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He currently teaches in the English Department at the University of Tulsa. His work has appeared in the Times Literary SupplementThe New York Review of BooksThe New YorkerLondon Review of BooksThe GuardianGranta, and other journals. He is the author of My Hollywood and Other Poems (Paul Dry Books, 2022) and Western Crime Fiction Goes East: The Russian Pinkerton Craze 1907-1934 (Brill, 2012), editor of 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution (Pushkin Press, 2016), co-editor, with Robert Chandler and Irina Mashinski, of The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015), and translator of Isaac Babel, Andrey Kurkov, Maxim Osipov, Mikhail Zoshchenko, and other authors. He received first prize in the 2011 Compass Translation Award competition and, with Irina Mashinski, first prize in the 2012 Joseph Brodsky / Stephen Spender Translation Prize competition. In 2020 he received the inaugural Kukula Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Book Reviewing from the Washington Monthly. In 2022 he received the inaugural Gregg Barrios Book in Translation Prize from the National Book Critics Circle for his translation of Andrey Kurkov’s Grey Bees. You can find him on X @Boris Dralyuk.


Jennifer A. Frey is the inaugural dean of the Honors College at the University of Tulsa, with a secondary appointment as professor of philosophy in the department of philosophy and religion. Previously, she was an Associate Professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina, where she was also a Peter and Bonnie McCausland faculty fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to her tenure at Carolina, she was a Collegiate Assistant Professor the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and a junior fellow of the Society for the Liberal Arts.

She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh and her B.A. in philosophy and Medieval Studies (with a Classics minor) at Indiana University-Bloomington. In 2015, she was awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the John Templeton Foundation, titled “Virtue, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life,” She has published widely on virtue and moral psychology, and she has edited three academic volumes on virtue and human action. Her writing has been featured in First Things, Image, Law and Liberty, The Point, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.  She lives with her husband and six children in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is on X @jennfrey




Meet your hosts: