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About One Book | One Community 2016

About One Book | One Community 2016

Spertus Institute was proud to again spearhead One Book | One Community, in which a single Jewish book is selected as the focal point of discussions and events across the Greater Chicago Jewish community. The 2016 selection was The Imperial Wife.

Called "mesmerizing" by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and "playful and profound" by Booklist, it intertwines the stories of two ambitious immigrants. One is a rising Jewish/Russian art specialist at an international auction house in present-day New York. The other is the future Catherine the Great as she maneuvers through the Russian court in the 18th century.

This is the second novel by author Irina Reyn. Her first, What Happened to Anna K., won the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Jewish Fiction. Like Tanya, one of the characters in The Imperial Wife, Reyn immigrated to the United States from Moscow. She has been writing about the experience — in one way or another — ever since.

This fast-paced book unpacks a trove of topics that will resonate with readers: the impact of success on marriage, the privileges and obligations of great wealth, and the advantages and disadvantages of being outside the mainstream in terms of faith, gender, nationality, identity, community, and career.

Author Irina Reyn made two area appearances, both on Sunday, December 11. The first took place at the Bernard Weinger JCC in Northbrook. The second was at Spertus Institute, and was preceded by tea from Russian Tea Time and a concert of Russian music. Reyn spoke, took questions from the audience, and signed books at each location.

The Imperial Wife — released earlier this year — is available in hardcover and ebook.


Jewish Book Month is an annual event on the American Jewish calendar dedicated to the celebration of Jewish books. It is observed during the month preceding Hanukkah.

THANK YOU to media sponsor JUF News, community sponsor Russian Jewish Division of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and Russian Tea Time. Irina Reyn's author appearances are part of the Solomon Goldman Program Series, generously endowed by the late Rose and Sidney Shure.