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Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Russia, Italian-American, song, karaoke, New Jersey, masculinity



An American singing prodigy escapes to Russia following the death of his bandmate and stays after his last close relative – his mother – dies. It’s the late 1990s and he’s found a new home. After a decade in obscurity he makes a comeback by joining a Russian musical collective, but when they embark on a tour during the events in Crimea in 2014, accusations swirl about his past as a democracy promoter for a U.S.-funded NGO in Vladivostok. Condemned by the media as a spy, he’s eventually denounced by Rokko – the man who rediscovered him, mentored him, and became his best friend – a hybrid like him, someone with a toehold in both Russian and American cultures. He returns to the U.S. where he is also viewed warily, for he responds to criticisms of Russia by encouraging a nuanced understanding of the country at a time when there’s no patience for it. He is left without the one thing he’d always searched for: a home.

Available for download on Friday, May 10, 2024