Olga Grushin is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Dream Life of Sukhanov and The Line. Both grapple with the legacy of the Soviet Union and the depths of human character. Raised in Moscow, Grushin was the first Soviet citizen to graduate from a U.S. university after the cold war. She now lives in Washington, D.C.

Can you tell us something about your religious identity?
For the first 13 years of my life, religion was a very vague idea. I was reading constantly, and I came across the Bible when I was 12 or 13. I found myself completely fascinated. It was then that I decided that I wanted to study religion. I have a double major in religion and sociology.
At this point, I am very much an ag­nos­tic. My writing impulse comes from the search for meaning in life.

What is the relationship between imagination and hope in your novels?
The way I conceived The Line at first was as a story of people in a bleak place hoping for some change in their lives. All the characters are waiting to hear music, but not just music for music's sake. The concert ticket is a way to other things—higher feelings or better places. Waiting becomes a kind of religious or artistic experience.