A baffled fish owl, just before release, in the hands of Sergei Avdeyuk with me looking on.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve accepted an offer from the publishing house Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (FSG) to work on a book about my experiences with fish owls in Russia. FSG is a highly respected publisher with giants such as John McPhee, Tom Wolfe, Jonathan Franzen, and TS Eliot listed among their authors. I’ll be working on this with FSG editor Amanda Moon and literary agent Diana Finch.
The book will focus on my first five years of working with Russian colleagues to study Blakiston’s fish owls, from knowing nothing about this cryptic species to unlocking the secrets needed to protected them. The book will be told in the same vein as my East of Siberia series at Scientific American: driven by wildlife encounters and conservation, but rich with descriptions of the places I visited, the people I worked with, and the colorful characters I encountered along the way.
Stay tuned! A lot more to come….
Discussing “Across the Ussuri Kray” in Vladimir Arsenyev’s dining room.
I was in Vladivostok, Primorye earlier this week where I had the pleasure to conduct a pair of interviews with local television stations about Vladimir Arsenyev and my translation of his 1921 classic “Across the Ussuri Kray.”
The first interview took place at Arsenyev’s home in Vladivostok–now a museum–and was conducted at his dining room table. It was a humbling experience to be talking about this influential figure, among his belongings, in the house where he died in 1930.
The second interview was a few blocks away, at the natural history museum where Arsenyev worked, a place that has been called the Arsenyev Museum since 1945.
People in Vladivostok (and across all of Primorye) are fiercely proud of Arsenyev and his contributions to understanding the cultural and natural histories of the region. He is a hometown hero, someone whose name is synonymous with Primorye’s wilderness and identity.
My translation is not for sale in Russia, so my purpose with these interviews was not to sell books. Rather, I sought to show Primorye residents that Arsenyev’s influence reaches beyond the Russian Far East. That the hometown hero has fans abroad.
Full video is here, both in Russian: (1) Interview 1: OTV; (2) Interview 2: VestiPrimorye
Pretending to be speaking live on the radio.
Earlier this month I spoke about fish owls on a BBC World Service program called Outlook, which reaches approximately 52 million listeners across the globe. I think it turned out well.
If interested, follow the link to hear this seven-minute piece. They added music and sound effects to make it moody!