March 03, 2011

Review: The Road & More


The Road by Vassily Grossman (New York Review of Books)

Thisamazing collection of fiction and non-fiction by one of the 20th century's most talented and most overlooked writers re-demonstrates that Grossman was a meticulous documentarian of the Russian soul.

There is pathos and sorrow here, most notably in "The Hell of Treblinka," but there is hope and lightness as well, albeit at times tinged with the inescapable Soviet Orthodoxy.

Grossman's letters to his deceased mother are heart-wrenching, and his short stories are profoundly memorable. Robert Chandler's superb editing, introduction and notes make this a collector's edition.

Russian Literature, by Andrew Baruch Wachtel and Ilya Vinitsky (Polity)

A brilliant survey of the themes and trends in Russian literature, one period at a time. Each period is looked at through the tripartite lens of a chosen biography, a literary or cultural event, and a work of literature, making this vast and often intimidating subject manageable.

Growing Up in a Criminal World: Siberian Education, by Nicolai Lilin (W.W. Norton, April 2011)

If you have an interest in the Russian Underworld, this book - one is not sure whether to call it fiction or creative non-fiction or history - is a sort of first person account of life growing up in a strict, brutal criminal world. It is so rich in detail of the underworld life that one suspects it has to have been informed by deep personal experience.

The True Memoirs of Little K, by Adrienne Sharp (FSG)

A beautifully written, highly unreliable (so the fictional author herself admits), yet entertaining first person memoir by ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska, mistress to the last tsar. A colorful portrait of court life at the end of the Romanov's reign that seems to ring true with historical fact, as much as that can be known.

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Some of Our Books

Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
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.
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...
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.
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.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
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.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.

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