Raising Raffi, by Keith Gessen


Out in June
Now available for preorder


Keith Gessen was nearing forty and hadn’t given much thought to the idea of being a father. He assumed he would have kids, but couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be a parent, or what kind of parent he would be. Then, one Tuesday night in early June, the distant idea of fatherhood came careening into view: Raffi was born, a child as real and complex and demanding of his parents’ energy as he was singularly magical.

Praise for Raising Raffi:

My brother wrote a book about my nephew, and this book made me laugh and tear up. It’s a book about love: the love of a father for his child, of course, and also the love of an adult son for his parents (our parents), the love an emigre feels for the language (Russian) and culture (Soviet Jewish emigre) of his home. It’s a book about the way love makes us feel powerless one minute and strong the next. It’s a beautiful book, and you should read it.” —Masha Gessen

“Until recently, fatherhood was, in many places, an arm’s-length affair. In Raising Raffi, Keith Gessen puts the emerging phenomenon of engaged fatherhood on the literary map, with a raw, wry, introspective chronicle of the first five years of dad life. It is a story of Macy’s engagement rings, missing heartbeats, vaginal geysers, playground violence, Russian children’s literature, racially segregated schools, and more. It raises profound questions about what it means to raise a boy when the old ways of being a man have been discredited and the new ones have yet to saturate. If you are a father, want to be a father, have a father, or are thinking of leaving the father of your children, then this book is for you.” —Anand Giridharadas

“In this beautiful book, a father’s love and anxiety test themselves against the sometimes-dubious popular philosophies of parenting, the memories of Gessen’s own upbringing and the harsh interruption of real world events. Parents who have doubted themselves and tried to untangle the mystery of young humans—in other words, all parents—will recognize themselves in this vulnerable and finely wrought memoir.” —Megan K. Stack

Keith Gessen is the author of A Terrible CountryAll the Sad Young Literary Men and a founding editor of n+1. He is the editor of three nonfiction books and the translator or co-translator, from Russian, of a collection of short stories, a book of poems, and a work of oral history, Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl. A contributor to The New Yorker and The London Review of Books, Gessen teaches journalism at Columbia and lives in New York with his wife and sons.

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