May 05, 2009

Must See Films, Must Read Fiction

In our 100th issue, we have a long feature, "100 Things Everyone Should Know About Russia," with loads of factoids, notes, lists and essays. We figured our list of the "must read" fiction and "must see" movies would be a bit contentious (and certainly foreshortened). So we are posting the lists here for reader comment and supplementation...

10 Must Read Novels

Everyone knows Lev Tolstoy's War and Peace and Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. But here are ten lesser-known works of Russian fiction that are essential (not listed in any order of precedence).

  • A Hero for Our Time, Mikhail Lermontov
  • Yevgeny Onegin, Alexander Pushkin
  • The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  • The Zone, Sergei Dovlatov
  • Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
  • House on the Embankment, Yuri Trifonov
  • The Twelve Chairs, Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn[1]
  • Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov[2]
  • Moscow to the End of the Line, Venedikt Erofeyev

10 Essential Short Stories

  • Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov[1]
  • Hadji Murat, Lev Tolstoy[1]
  • The Overcoat, Nikolai Gogol
  • Envy, Yuri Olesha[1]
  • Gooseberries, Anton Chekhov
  • The Elagin Affair, Ivan Bunin
  • The Nose, Nikolai Gogol
  • Life with an Idiot, Viktor Erofeyev
  • Sonechka, Lyudmila Ulitskaya
  • The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea, Nikolai Leskov

[1] Technically, these are novellas, or povesti, but we classified them as we thought of them.
[2] Yes, this was written in English, but we felt it essential to have a Nabokov contribution on the list.

20 Must See Films

There are hundreds of excellent Russian films that are invaluable for understanding Russia, for picking up on important cultural knowledge. Every film lover will have their own list. These are 20 that we feel every Russophile should see. The choice is limited to films that are available with English language subtitles.

  • Aelita, by Iakov Protazanov (1924)
  • Battleship Potemkin, by Sergei Eisenstein (1925)
  • The Circus, by Grigory Alexandrov (1936)
  • The Fall of Berlin, by Mikhail Chiaureli (1949)
  • The Cranes are Flying, by Mikhail Kalatozov (1957)
  • Andrei Rublyov, by Andrei Tarkovsky (1966)
  • Diamond Arm, by Leonid Gaidai (1968)
  • White Sun of the Desert, by Vladimir Motyl (1970)
  • Belorussky Train Station, by Andrei Smirnov (1970)
  • Gentlemen of Fortune, by Alexander Sery (1972)
  • 17 Moments of Spring, by Tatyana Lyuznova (1973)
  • Irony of Fate, by Eldar Ryazanov (1975)
  • Slave of Love, by Nikita Mikhalkov (1976)
  • Mimino, by Georgi Daneliya (1977)
  • The Assent, by Larissa Shepitko (1977)
  • An Ordinary Miracle, by Mark Zakharov (1978)
  • >Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, by Vladimir Menshov (1980)
  • Repentance, by Tengiz Abuladze (1984)
  • Brother, film by Alexei Balabanov (1997)
  • Gloss, Andrei Konchalovsky (2007)
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
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.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
Marooned in Moscow

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.

About Us

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.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602