Yuri Markovich Nagibin, a prominent Soviet and Russian writer and screenwriter, was born on April 3, 1920, in Moscow. His birth was overshadowed by tragedy; his father, Kirill Nagibin, a Russian nobleman, was executed as a counter-revolutionary before Yuri was born. Raised by his Jewish stepfather, Mark Leventhal, Yuri experienced the arrest and internal exile of his stepfather in 1927. For much of his early life, Nagibin believed he was partly Jewish, though he later discovered that both his biological parents were Russian. Despite this revelation, Nagibin identified with the Jewish community and was a vocal critic of antisemitism, having faced it personally.

Nagibin’s academic journey began at the Moscow State Medical University, but his interest soon shifted to film, leading him to attend VGIK (All-Union State Institute of Cinematography). His writing career commenced in 1940, and he quickly became a member of the Union of Soviet Writers. World War II interrupted his studies, and he joined the Red Army in 1942 as a political commissar, utilizing his German language skills in counterpropaganda efforts. After suffering a contusion, Nagibin returned to the front as a war correspondent.

Post-war, Nagibin established himself as a prolific writer, penning novels, novellas, short stories, and numerous screenplays. His themes were diverse, ranging from wartime experiences to everyday life post-war, ecological issues, and Russian history. His travels within and outside the USSR profoundly influenced his works. Among his notable screenplays was “The Red Tent,” detailing Umberto Nobile’s North Pole expedition, and “Dersu Uzala,” a Soviet-Japanese collaboration directed by Akira Kurosawa, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1976.

Nagibin’s personal life was as eventful as his professional one. He married six times but had no children. His spouses included Valentina Likhachyova, the daughter of Ivan Likhachev, and the famous Soviet poet Bella Akhmadulina. His last marriage, to Alla Nagibina, lasted 25 years until his death.

Nagibin was also politically active; in October 1993, he was one of the signatories of the Letter of Forty-Two. He passed away in Moscow on June 17, 1994, and was laid to rest at the Novodevichy Cemetery, leaving behind a rich legacy in Russian literature and cinema.

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  • 1982: Island of Love, by Yuri Nagibin

    Island of Love by Yuri Nagibin is a Russian novel published by Progress Publishers in Moscow. The book is a romantic tale that takes place on a remote island in the Black Sea during World War II. The story follows a young soldier named Alyosha who is sent to the island to guard a military base. While there, he meets a beautiful young woman named Nadya and they fall in love. However, their relationship is complicated by the war and the fact that Nadya is engaged to another man. The novel explores themes of love, duty, and sacrifice as Alyosha and Nadya navigate their feelings for each other in the midst of a tumultuous time.

    The book is beautifully written and filled with vivid descriptions of the island and its inhabitants. The characters are well-developed and the reader is drawn into their world, feeling their joys and sorrows as they struggle to make sense of their feelings and the world around them.