Diana Nakeeb

Biography

I was born in Brooklyn (NY) as World War II was ending. My earliest memories are from an idyllic time in Old Flatbush, where older children would pull me in their red wagons and let me pet their dogs and cats. However, after the demobilization of my father and the cancer death of my grandfather (who during World War I had come from Lithuania to open a brewery, closed for Prohibition in 1920), my orphaned parents and I moved to a housing project in a rather notorious neighborhood. It ensured a roof over the heads of, eventually, my brother and sister and me. In the ancient days before the Internet, my favorite childhood hobby was searching for "good places," which led me in adulthood to Staten Island. There are still chunks of Brooklyn deep in my heart, however, reflected in my comedy-sci-fi novel, "Venus Turning."
Sometimes things are so bad, they're good. Such was my alma mater, P.S. 125 in Brownsville.. Later it was not just closed down, but torn down. We 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 a splendid public library, and it fulfilled all my criteria of a "good place." It hardly mattered that little was taught in school, because I read the library's novels non-stop. Fiction in the broadest sense (including natural extensions: movies and plays, pictures and operas) is the teacher that helps our minds to deal with reality. My high school was Thomas Jefferson in East New York, once famous as the alma mater of Danny Kaye, but later infamous for other reasons. Still, I was lucky to be there when I was: both my art teacher, Don Fabricant, and creative-writing teacher, Benjamin Goodman, attained some national recognition for their original work, and their colleagues in other subjects also had high aspirations. My family moved out of Brownsville in time for my senior year, when I transferred to S.J. Tilden High School (still in Brooklyn), and being fifteen, I dreamed intensely about slipping away after graduation. However, the fine Tilden faculty made sure that everyone applied to the City University of New York; and so, I ended up with having to accept my acceptance at tuition-free Hunter College. Unable to find a summer job, in despair I looked for the summer course at Hunter that looked the most fun and had no requirements. That was Intensive Russian. So began my careers in translating, researching, and ultimately teaching.
Teaching fulfilled my hopes of giving back to struggling youth so that they, too, would see literature as a lifesaver, as it had been for me.
At first, to acquire the broadest possible background for teaching, (but later because I came under a kind of enchantment), I remained in graduate school at the Russian Institute and the Department of Slavic Languages at Columbia University, for seven years.
As a result, when finally pried loose from grad school, I taught at William Paterson College (NJ), Pace University (NYC), and Yeshiva University (NYC), where I laid the foundations for Russian and East-European-related programs in each college.
Free at last! I am now retired. Writing with no hope of publication is my hobby.

Smashwords Interview

What are you working on now?
I've just finished a short story on a subject that I think affects everyone, entitled "In the Kingdom of the Gargoyles." The introductory period of free distribution is now over, and it is available on Smashwords for the most modest possible price!
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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Books

Venus Turning
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 25,950. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2015. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
A good-humored satire about scientists, politicians, plutocrats and opportunists jumping into the future to the best of their ability. Adult readers will do double-takes, recognizing the future selves of people they thought they knew. Younger readers will be carried along for the fun of it, as they travel with characters of all ages, including their own.
In the Kingdom of the Gargoyles
By
Price: $0.99 USD. 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.

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