At the time of its first publication, The Human Experience was a historic publishing event, the first of its kind: an anthology published simultaneously in the United States and the Soviet Union that brought together forty brilliant and celebrated contemporary writers—half of them Americans, half of them Russians—in deeply felt stories and poems which provided glimpses of the life, the work, the play, the textures and humors of the two countries, giving us insight into how we differed, what we had in common.
Pieces by Soviet and American writers of the time are interspersed. The American contributors include Raymond Carver, Mary Gordon, Garrison Keillor, Adrienne Rich, John Updike, Alice Walker and Robert Penn Warren. Among the Soviet writers are Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Andrei Voznesensky, Bulat Okudzhava, Tatyana Tolstaya, Georgy Semyonov and Bella Akhmadulina.
It was the hope of everyone concerned with this anthology at the time of its original publication that its attempt to make new connections between two peoples through storytelling and poetry would capture the imagination of readers in America, the Soviet Union and the world.