Known best for his novel-turned-screenplay, The Red Tent, he also published such short and long fiction works as Arise and Walk and Island of Love.
One of his earliest publications was a 1959 short story collection titled Such a Simple Thing and Other Stories.
He and forty-one other Russian intellectuals reacted to the Russian Constitutional Crisis of 1993 by signing the famous "Letter of Forty-Two."
His biological father, a Russian counter-revolutionary, was killed shortly before his birth; he was raised in the Jewish faith by his mother and his stepfather, Mark Leventhal.
His book (and screenplay) The Red Tent was inspired by explorer Umberto Nobile's late 1920s North Pole expedition.