Tatyana Tolstaya was born in Leningrad in 1951 to an aristocratic family that includes the writers Leo and Alexei Tolstoy. After completing a degree in classics at Leningrad State University, Tolstaya worked for several years at a Moscow publishing house. In the mid-1980s, she began publishing short stories in literary magazines and her first story collection established her as one of the foremost writers of the Gorbachev era. She spent much of the late Eighties and Nineties living in the United States and teaching at several universities. Known for her acerbic essays on contemporary Russian life, Tolstaya has also been the co-host of the Russian cultural interview television program School for Scandal. Both her novel, The Slynx and her collection of stories, White Walls, are published by NYRB Classics.