Born in Kazan, Russia, Aksyonov made his debut during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he was closely associated with the popular journal Yunost' (Youth). His work was distinguished by its contemporary idiom, filled with slang and foreign borrowings, the idiom of the young people whose iconoclasm and social turmoil his prose depicted. During the 1970s, Aksyonov increasingly turned toward the fantastic and the grotesque. Involved in the unofficial Metropol' collection, he was exiled in 1980. Since then, he has lived in the United States, where he has published several important works, including The Island of Crimea, a political fantasy, and In Search of Melancholy Baby, a provocative exploration of contemporary America. During the Gorbachev period, Aksyonov was again published in the Soviet Union, and he is acknowledged as a leading figure in contemporary Russian fiction. Akutagawa, Ryunosuke Life Dates:1892-1927 Best known for his short stories, Akutagawa was born in Tokyo, Japan, on March 1, 1892. He wrote about 150 short stories, several poems, and a novel. Feudal fables are often the source for his tales, but Akutagawa also brought his knowledge of several world literatures to enrich his writing. His best-known story, "In a Grove" ("Yabu no naka"), has become a play and was made into the prizewinning movie Rashomon by Kurosawa Akira. Akutagawa died by suicide in Tokyo in 1927.