This week, Lara interviews Saffy Mirghani, a PhD student at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) and current editor-in-chief of SSEES’s postgrad run academic journal “Slovo”.

Saffy talks about her research into the influence of literary legend Fyodor Dostoevsky on African American literature and the Blackness of Alexander Pushkin. Saffy talks about her favourite novels and recommends the best way for those new to Russian literature to get into Dostoevsky. She also discusses the existential themes of suffering, salvation and oppression that appear in Dostoevsky’s work and subsequently relate to African American slave culture in African American literature. Saffy explains why it is argued that Pushkin had an affinity to black culture through his own suffering and feeling like an outsider due to his heritage.

Tune in to hear more of Saffy’s fascinating perspective on Russian literature and her recommendations on how to get a well-rounded insight into Russian culture. Saffy is in her second year of PhD and hopes to contribute a valuable piece of scholarship to the field. She has ambitions to pursue a career in either academia or creative writing or both once her thesis is done.