Irina is a scholar of medieval English literature, an essayist, and a critic. She writes memoirs, cultural essays, and reviews a wide variety of books. She studied English and medieval literature at the University of Toronto, Yale, and Columbia, and now works in Bonn, Germany, as a professor.
Her essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, shortlisted for the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and received the McGinnis-Ritchie Award for nonfiction. One piece was included in Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen and Bob Atwan, with others selected as notables in 2013, 2017, 2018, and 2020. Her work has also been reprinted in Holly Hughes’ Best Food Writing 2017, Jay McInerney’s Wine Reads: A Literary Anthology of Wine Writing (2018) and Longreads. Various pieces have also appeared in Romanian, Spanish, Latvian, and Chinese.
What's your desert island food?
"My celebration food is sushi, and I think this might work well on a desert island too. First of all, I'd have access to fish, and in a warm climate, I might not crave rich, warming stews. It would be making a virtue of necessity in the best possible way."
What's your favorite condiment?
"Currently obsessed with jalapeño aioli, into which I dip pizza crusts. Judge not, lest ye be judged."
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