Debra Dean biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Debra Dean
Photo: David Hiller

Debra Dean

Debra Dean Biography

Debra Dean attended Whitman College where she double-majored in English and Drama. She worked in New York and regional theatre for nearly a decade. She received her MFA degree from the University of Oregon and has written 3 novels, The Madonnas of Leningrad (2006) which has been published in twenty languages, a set of short stories Confessions of a Falling Woman (2008) and The Mirrored World (2012).

She now lives in Miami where she teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University.



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Interview

The story behind The Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean's fascinating novel set partially in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad during World War II.

In 1995, I watched a PBS series on the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. My journal entry for the next day read in part: "I was particularly struck by one incident which might make a story (even a novel, but for the research)." During the first winter that the Nazis lay siege to Leningrad, the Hermitage staff and their families – nearly 2000 people - lived in the basement of the museum itself. In the first days of the war, they had evacuated all the art – millions of objects, thousands of undisputed masterpieces - but they had left the empty frames hanging on the walls of the museum as a token of their pledge that the art would return. A story was related that one of the staff, a former guide now living in the cellar, began to give tours of the empty museum to visitors. It was said that he described the paintings so well that the visitors could almost see them.

This image gripped me. Still, I was a short story writer and even my short stories tended towards the brevity of poems, so the prospect of writing something the size of a novel terrified me. Let alone a novel set in a country that I had never visited and during a tumultuous period about which I knew next to nothing. Throw in a foreign language and some ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Debra Dean at BookBrowse
The Mirrored World jacket Confessions of a Falling Woman jacket The Madonnas of Leningrad jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Debra Dean but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • David Benioff

    David Benioff

    David Benioff (born David Friedman but changed his name to take his mother's maiden name) was born and raised in New York City and attended Dartmouth College and the University of California at Irvine. His father, Stephen ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Madonnas of Leningrad

    Try:
    City of Thieves
    by David Benioff

  • Helen Dunmore

    Helen Dunmore

    Helen Dunmore was born in Yorkshire, England in 1952. In a career spanning three decades she published fifteen novels, three short story collections, prize-winning children's fiction and twelve collections of poetry. Her... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Madonnas of Leningrad

    Try:
    The Betrayal
    by Helen Dunmore

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