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Kostioukovitch’s interest in literature dates back to her childhood years. She is a granddaughter of the Russian writer and painter Leonid Volynski (Seven Days, Moscow 1956), and had access (first in Kiev and later in Moscow) to artistic and literary circles; famous writers Viktor Nekrasov and Alexander Galich were among these who had a particular influence on young Elena.

At the age of 17 Kostioukovitch entered the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, where she studied in the Philological Faculty in the Department of Italian Literature under the guidance of distinguished Prof. Galina Muravieva and of the Dean of the Russian Poetry and Translation Dept. Prof. Eugeny Solonovich. She Graduated with honors from the University in 1980, Italian Seicento having been the focus of her degree, her thesis was devoted to L’Adone by Giovanbattista Marino, and her Ph.D. thesis to Italian Baroque Aesthetics. Between 1980 and 1988 she was a head of the Italian department of "Contemporary Foreign Fiction" magazine.

In 2006 Kostioukovitch penned a book on the role of food in Italian culture, which explores the country’s history in depth: "Why Italians Love to Talk about Food" ("Perché agli Italiani piace parlare del cibo", Milano, Sperling & Kupfer, 2006). The book was also published in Russian as "Eda. Italianskoye Schastye" (Moscow, EKSMO, 2006). This book serves a gastronomic guide to the regions of Italy for the National Geographic office in Moscow and is widely consulted by Russian tourists who are eager to gain a deeper understanding of Italian history and culture. This title won the Premio Bancarella della Cucina award in 2007. The English translation is to be published in Fall 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, USA.
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