Diana Nakeeb


I'm a "boomer," who was born in Brooklyn, NY, as World War II was ending. My earliest memories are of an idyllic time in Old Flatbush, where the other children would pull me in their red wagons and let me pet their dogs and cats. However, after my father was demobilized and my grandfather (who came from Lithuania to open a brewery, which closed for Prohibition in 1920) died of cancer, my orphaned parents moved to a housing project in one of Brooklyn's most notorious neighborhoods. It ensured a roof over our heads for, ultimately, my brother and sister and me. My favorite childhood hobby was searching for "good places," which ultimately led me into Staten Island. But there are chunks of Brooklyn deep in my heart, reflected in my sci-fantasy-comedy novel, "Venus Crossing."
Sometimes things are so bad, they're good. Such was my alma mater, P.S. 125 in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Later it was not just closed down, but torn down. We elementary students were taught very little. However, the 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-grade sewing lessons stand out as a particular highlight, and I enjoy sewing to this day. The school did not clutter up my head with excessive knowledge, which left enough room to do better in college.
Down the street from P.S. 125 was an old but splendid public library, and it fulfilled all my criteria of a "good place," so I was there very often. My high school was Thomas Jefferson H.S. in East New York, once famous as the alma mater of Danny Kaye, but later infamous for behavior problems. Still, I was lucky to be there: my art teacher, Don Fabricant, and creative-writing teacher, Benjamin Goodman, both attained national reputation for their original work, and their colleagues in other subjects also had high aspirations. The family moved out of Brownsville in time for my senior year, so I transferred to S.J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, and the Tilden faculty made sure that I applied for the City University of New York. Being only fifteen, I was thinking of slipping away after graduation, but had no option except to accept my acceptance at tuition-free Hunter College. The summer course at Hunter that looked fun and had no requirements was Intensive Russian. So began my careers in translating, researching, and ultimately teaching, which fulfilled my hopes of encouraging struggling youth and helping them to see literature as a lifesaver, as it was for me.
To acquire the broadest background that I could for teaching, I remained in graduate school at the Russian (now Harriman) Institute and the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University for seven years.
I have taught at William Paterson College (NJ), Pace University (NYC), and Yeshiva University (NYC), starting up Russian-related programs in each. Free at last! I am now retired.

Smashwords Interview

What are you working on now?
I'm writing a short story on a subject that I think affects everyone, and therefore, it will be distributed free of charge. On Smashwords, of course.
Who are your favorite authors?
Different authors have been my favorites at different times of my life. Growing up, I was in awe of the major American poets, particularly: Edwin Arlington Robinson, Emily Dickinson, and of course, everybody's favorite, Edgar Allen Poe. As a teen, my attention was divided between Sci-Fi (Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, and the whole marvelous moosh of pop culture, from comics to films: I never met a superhero/heroine that I didn't like), and -- in American literature, Henry James. How's that for a schizophrenic background? As an adult, I learned to sample translations from every country and culture. I have yet to find a country that has not contributed something priceless, to the world, through its literature. As a college student, perhaps I had a particular taste for French, Russian, and German authors, enough to give me the strength to persist until I could read them in the original texts. And at the moment? There's so much competition among contemporary authors, from Annie Proulx (Brokeback Mountain, The Shipping News, etc.) to Khaled Hosseini (The Kite-Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, etc.) -- it would take all day to name just the totally outstanding. It always amuses me when scientists reveal that they are jealous of "Nobel Prize Winners," whom they can count (somewhat grumpily) on their fingers. In literature, there is such an abundance of good writers, from whom I have received so much enjoyment and education, it's too exhausting even to think about, let alone envy.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Diana Nakeeb online

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In the Kingdom of the Gargoyles
Price: Free! Words: 6,040. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2014. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
"In the Kingdom of the Gargoyles" is a bittersweet short story about the life of an artist and the cascade of snowballing ironies in that life. The artist is Everyman, but with innermost feelings revealed too graphically for comfort. The artist's works present a corrupting temptation to those around him, yet he considers himself the most corrupted of all.
Venus Crossing
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 25,620. Language: English. Published: August 15, 2014. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Around the year 2025, when no American citizen pays taxes any more, and neither the government nor the scientific establishment has any money, people are still eager to reach other planets. It takes an evolved tomcat, a roving beauty, an ex-President, and dreamers who have overcome harsh prejudices, to stumble their way to the peak that beckons them. In new biospheres, the heart remains eternal.

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