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Russian classic literature and its contemporary stars translated into English
The cookbook offers remarkable insight into the world of Slavic cuisine, revealing previously unknown details, especially about its origins. Read some excerpts from the book for free here: Maslenitsa and pancakes -; Freshwater carp; Home-made fast food
In chilly late October 1910, the 82-year-old Leo Tolstoy unexpectedly left his beautiful country home in Yasnaya Polyana and set off into the night. Three weeks later he died of pneumonia at a little rural railway station Astapovo. What made the author run away like this and where exactly was he planning to go? Read in this book written by Tolstoy expert, Pavel Basinsky, and take a look at our review
Leo Tolstoy, Pavel Basinsky
A milestone of 20th-century dystopian literature that presents an apparently ideal world where the Single State has suppressed freedom in the name of happiness. Both George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” have echoes of “We” in them. Read more about Yevgeny Zamyarin here
In the mythical Riphean Mountains, gem prospectors, called rock hounds, search for precious stones. On the streets of a Russian city, romance unfolds against the backdrop of the centenary of the 1917 revolution—seemingly a call to repeated violence. Olga Slavnikova weaves these parallel plots and settings together in “2017,” an ambitious, postmodern contribution to a revered literary tradition. Slavnikova’s strange, genre-defying novel, winner of the 2006 Russian Booker Prize, finally made it into English in Marian Schwartz’s luminous translation. Read RBTH review by Phoebe Taplin
Born Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya in 1872, Teffi was a literary star in turn-of-the-century Russia, with fans ranging from Tsar Nicholas II to Vladimir Lenin. The pocket-sized volume "Subtly Worded" is arranged chronologically, from Teffi’s early days in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg to her life and death in Paris. The title story satirizes letters to Parisian émigrés from friends in Soviet Russia, describing people who “died from appetite” or led “a secluded life”. Correspondence is reduced to a nonsensical code, conveying the horror of a world turned upside down...
Dostoevsky’s moody, murderous, handsome, penniless ex-student Raskolnikov has become a byword in many languages for an immoral protagonist feverishly obsessed by his own crimes. This novel is one of the most intriguing psychological studies ever written.
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Mikhail Elizarov won the prestigious Russian Booker Prize in 2008 with his story of war-like “libraries” and their battles over copies of old novels that give their readers magical powers. The tale is studded with bayonets, broken glass, butchers’ cleavers, spiked clubs, axes, hammers and flails. This is not the sedate ride a reader might expect from a novel called “The Librarian”, which centers on the works of Dmitry Gromov, an invented, second-rate, Soviet author. Translator Andrew Bromfield has calmly waded through the gore to bring us the “Battle of Neverbino” or compound neologisms like “Yeltsinhater”... Read RBTH review by Phoebe Taplin
Deborah McDonald and Jeremy Dronfield have written a readable account of the “life, loves and lies” of “Russia’s most seductive spy.” Born into an aristocratic family in 1892 and cared for by an Irish nanny, young Moura “grew up speaking better English than Russian.” The story swoops past pre-dawn Sparrow Hills in Moscow, a rural estate in Estonia or early Soviet Petrograd (today’s St. Petersburg) to Capri, where Budberg briefly lived with Maxim Gorky, or interwar Essex, where she later visited H.G. Wells. Both writers were her lovers...
Eugene Vodolazkin’s book was a huge hit in Russia. A novel about the life of a 15th-century Russian monk might sound an unlikely bestseller, but Vodolazkin’s extraordinary tale Laurus became a literary sensation, won Russia’s Big Book award in 2013, and was shortlisted for numerous other prizes. Vodolazkin’s spiritual odyssey transcends history, fusing archaism and slang to convey the idea that “time is a sort of misunderstanding.”
Laurus, Eugene Vodolazkin
“Daniel Stein,” a novel by one of Russia’s bestselling authors is based on the story of Oswald Rufeisen, a Polish Jew who was an interpreter who helped Jews escape from the Mir ghetto, escaped himself, and hid in a monastery for a year before converting to Christianity. Ulitskaya based her novel loosely on his incredible life. “I have always been curious about people on the margins,” agreed Ulitskaya. “Daniel Stein and his followers have blurred boundaries.”
Harvard professor Serhii Plokhy, has written a pacey, erudite tome about the end of the Soviet Union. More than 400 pages are dedicated to the five months between the July 1991 Moscow summit and Gorbachev’s Christmas resignation. Plokhy uses recently declassified documents and top-level interviews focusing closely on “the drive of the Soviet republics towards independence” and challenging the idea that the US “won” the cold war. Colorful details, like the leaders’ Moscow meal of beef with truffle sauce, bring to life this topical account of a world-changing moment.
An obsessive stranger encountered on a long train journey tells the narrator of "The Kreutzer Sonata" a tale of murderous sexual jealousy, censored when it was first published in 1889. Tolstoy transforms his own puritanical, late-life convictions into intense, descriptive prose as his character rails against marriage and advocates celibacy.
'Masha Regina' by Vadim Levantal is a bold novel in the Dostoevskian spirit. Growing up in provincial Russia, Masha Regina – artist and future film director – knows she is different from the people around her. “The city where Masha lives is always empty,” writes Petersburg novelist Vadim Levantal near the start of the story; “… the men here are sluggish and the women are quarrelsome…” Levantal’s heroine is a bold creation; his mixture of philosophical observation and narrative detail is intriguing... Read RBTH review by Phoebe Taplin
The Investigator is a murder and paranoia mix in Stalinist Ukraine. Mikhail Tsupkoy is a retired police investigator recalling a murder case from the early 1950s. Through his methodical narrative he pieces together fragments of his own life and the community’s traumatic shared history. Jewish author Margarita Khemlin’s work, rendered excellently in Melanie Moore’s thoughtful translation, introduces the reader to a diverse range of townsfolk, who all play a role in assisting, obscuring or mirroring Tsupkoy’s search for meaning and resolution... Read RBTH review by George Butchard
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