March 11, 2018

Another Birthday


Another Birthday

On this day, 28 years ago, two naive young Americans sat down and agreed to found a publishing company together. This publishing company.

I was living and working in Moscow, helping to run one of the first Soviet-Western joint-venture businesses. David Kelley was doing the same. Our company was publishing books and running a printshop and a chain of bookstores. Kelley was running a screen-printing business, idealistically hoping to turn Young Communists into responsible capitalists (spoiler alert: it didn't work). Together we hatched the idea of writing and publishing books for people doing business in Russia, then seen by many to be on the verge of a capitalist boom. We'd be selling picks and shovels to prospectors, we told ourselves and others. And we convinced a couple of Norwegians to join us in our grand scheme. 

The rest is history.

Now, nearly three decades and hundreds of thousands of books and magazines and calendars later, the world is a far different place from the one that, back in 1990, we imagined. The Russian Boom came and went, then it came again (this time fueled by oil and gas) and really took off, and the Cold War was won and lost, and then resumed again with a fury worse than any time since at least the 1980s.

We have lived through coups and rumors of coups, weathered countless business cycles, lost and gained partners, and made countless trips to and from Mother Russia.

Whenever I pause to look back, I am amazed at what we have traversed, at the very fact that we have survived.

And in a week like this one I feel particularly lucky to have been on this journey for 28 years. 

Because this week, after nearly two years of planning, fundraising, research, journalism, photography, writing, translating, editing, layout, design and printing, we released what I feel is the most important book in our company's 28-year history, Resilience: Life Stories of Centenarians Born in the Year of Revolution.

The book collects some of the life stories of 22 remarkable individuals, most all of them Russian, most all of them women, and most all of them blue-eyed. Their stories are by turns profound and heartbreaking, awe-inspiring and endearing. We were lucky to be allowed to hear them first hand, to record them in print and on video, and even more lucky to be allowed to share them with the world.

At a time when all we hear out of Russia is news that is either bad or worse, it could not be more important to share stories of humanity and community, of hope and persistence. Of resilience.

So thank you to all our customers and partners, and to our contributors and collaborators all over the world. Without you, we could never have come this far. 

Just two more years and we'll be "over the hill"...

Paul E. Richardson
Publisher

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Some of Our Books

Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Murder and the Muse

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.
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
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.
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. 
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.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Turgenev Bilingual

Turgenev Bilingual

A sampling of Ivan Turgenev's masterful short stories, plays, novellas and novels. Bilingual, with English and accented Russian texts running side by side on adjoining pages.
Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Bilingual series of short, lesser known, but highly significant works that show the traditional view of Dostoyevsky as a dour, intense, philosophical writer to be unnecessarily one-sided. 
The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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