Yuz (Iosif) Aleshkovsky - biography
Iosif Efimovich Aleshkovsky (Russian: Иосиф Ефимович Алешковский), known as Yuz Aleshkovsky (Russian: Юз Алешко́вский) (born September 21, 1929), is a modern Russian writer, poet, playwright and performer of his own songs.
Yuz Aleshkovsky was born in Krasnoyarsk in 1929, when his family resided there briefly for his father's business. Three months later his family returned to Moscow. His high school studies were interrupted due to his family's evacuation during the Second World War.
In 1947 Aleshkovsky was drafted into the Soviet Navy, but because of breaking the disciplinary code, he had to serve four years in jail (1950–1953). After serving the term, Aleshkovsky moved back to Moscow and began writing books for children.
Aleshkovsky also wrote songs and performed them. Some, especially "Товарищ Сталин, вы большой ученый" [Comrade Stalin, you are a great scholar] and "Окурочек" [Little cigarette butt], became extremely popular in the Soviet Union and are considered folk classics.
Aleshkovsky also wrote screenplays for movies and television and was accepted into the Writers Union.
From the very beginning of his career, Aleshkovsky did not compromise his writing to conform to official Soviet doctrine, and for this reason his novellas and novels were available only in samizdat. Some of his songs were included in the subversive self-published almanac Metropol (1979).
With no hope of being published officially in the Soviet Union, Aleshkovsky emigrated to the West in 1979 and resided in Austria. The following year, he was invited to the United States by Wesleyan University and settled in Middletown, Connecticut, where he presently lives and serves as a Visiting Russian Emigre Writer in Wesleyan's Russian Department. In 2002 Aleshkovsky won the Pushkin Prize.