John Burnham Schwartz

Cindy Seip

John Burnham Schwartz is the bestselling author of five novels, including Northwest Corner, The Commoner, and Reservation Road, which was made into a film based on his screenplay. He has done extensive screen and television writing for the major Hollywood studios, including as screenwriter of HBO Films’ The Wizard of Lies starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, for which he was nominated for a 2018 Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Writing. In 1967, as the Cold War silently raged on, Svetlana Alliluyeva, the only daughter of the Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin, abruptly abandoned her life in Moscow. She arrived in New York to throngs of reporters. By her side was Peter Horvath, a young lawyer sent by the CIA to smuggle Svetlana into America. The young lawyer who escorted Svetlana to the United States was actually John Burnham Schwartz’s father. In his historical novel The Red Daughter (Random House) Schwartz draws upon private papers and years of extensive research to imaginatively re-create the story of an extraordinary, troubled woman’s search for a new life and a place to belong. She is a contradictory celebrity: charismatic and headstrong, lonely and haunted, excited and alienated by her adopted country’s radically different society. After convincing herself that all she yearns for is a simple American life, she attempts to settle into a suburban existence in Princeton, New Jersey. But when the widow of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright calls, Svetlana impulsively joins her cult-like community, a choice that soon ends in disillusionment. That’s when Svetlana reaches out to Peter, the one person who understands the hold of her past. Their relationship changes and deepens, moving from America to England to the Soviet Union and back again, unfolding under the eyes of her CIA minders, and Svetlana’s and Peter’s private lives are no longer their own. The New York Times Book Review praised The Red Daughter for doing “exactly what good historical fiction should do: It sends you down the rabbit hole to read and learn more.”