March 21, 2019

A Dog and a Muscovite Come In from the Cold


A Dog and a Muscovite Come In from the Cold
No guns, fast driving, or killing in this new video game. Ilya Mazo, Alexander Ignatov

Throwback Thursday

Today in 1839, the composer of Boris Godunov, Pictures at an Exhibition, and Night on Bald Mountain was born. Happy 180th birthday, Mussorgsky!

Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky. / Wikimedia Commons

It’s Snowing (Wholesome) Cat and Dog (Stories)

1. “It’s Winter”: the coolest new game on the block. Produced by Moscow-based poet Ilya Mazo, “It’s Winter” is an avant-garde video game where all you do is make tea and watch TV in a suburban Russian apartment. And while most English-speakers only know about the game, “It’s Winter” is just one part of a multimedia digital opera. Fans of the game’s timeless yet uniquely post-Soviet feel can read an ebook or watch “It’s Winter: The Movie,” an eight-minute film where ordinary people intone everyday phrases to the accompaniment of buzzing lights and humming washing machines. We think it’s weirdly creepy, but chillingly beautiful.

2. Stop kitty, go kitty. Since the last time we wrote about Zelenogradsk, the city’s love of cats hasn’t lessened. On the contrary, Zelenogradsk has installed a new traffic light eschewing the traditional walking man for images of cats. There is some controversy over whether it’s a good idea. Some believe it is “simply super!”, while others lament that at this rate, Zelenogradsk might as well be renamed “Zelenokots.” Regardless, kitties are here to stay. Even if the traffic light goes, the new sculpture of cats at Zelenogradsk’s entrance isn’t leaving anytime soon.

Cat stoplight
Go kitty go! / overhear_zlk

3. Siberians to the rescue…in America! Two dogs fell into an icy pond in Yonkers, New York, but luckily, a Siberian-raised swimmer just happened to see them. Russian immigrant Timofey Yuriev thought of calling an ambulance, but “I was looking at them and I realized […] the rescuer, they will come maybe in 10, 15 minutes,” he said. So summoning the wisdom of his grandfather, a hunter who had taught him to swim in icy waters, Yuriev took off his shirt and dove in to save them. His loyal golden retriever Kira followed him in, nudging along the two dogs until everyone made it back, safe and sound. The pond may have been icy, but this story has a heartwarming ending.

Yuriev, Kira, and one of the dogs brave the chilly swim back. / Melissa Kho

Blog Spotlight

Robert Blaisdell reviewed Friedrich Gorenstein’s Redemption, a novel about a young woman who betrays her mother and courts a Jewish lieutenant in a town recently liberated from the Nazis. Read his review here.

In Odder News

Slapping championship
Aftermath of the winning blow in Tuesday’s slapping contest. / NTV
  • If you slap someone hard enough, you might just win $500. In Krasnoyarsk, one man won 30,000 rubles ($465) in a slapping championship.
  • Being vegan in Russia can be tough, but it’s worth it. Just ask these five people.
  • In the Novosibirsk Zoo, a polar bear gave birth to twin cubs. The men in the slapping championship may want to learn from the bear mother’s tenderness.
Polar bear cubs

Twin polar bear cubs. / V. Shadrin

 

Quote of the Week

“There’s a point on our arms that you can push, and suddenly, your nervous system gets reactivated. My grandfather, a hunter from Siberia, taught me this.”

— Timofey Yuriev, explaining how he braved the cold of an icy pond to rescue two drowning dogs

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Some of Our Books

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Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
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Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

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The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

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The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

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Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
Bears in the Caviar

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Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
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