February 15, 2018

Stories of Sorrow and Uplift


Stories of Sorrow and Uplift
Russian Plane Crash Kills 71

1. A Russian plane crashed near Moscow on Sunday, killing all 71 people on board. The plane, owned by Saratov Airlines, crashed several minutes after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Its destination was Orsk, a Russian city near Kazakhstan. The cause for the crash is still unknown, though early indications point to faulty speed indicators.

2. One Russian grandmother isn’t waiting for the cows to come home: she’s skating across the deepest lake in the world to get them herself. Lyubov Morekhodova, a 76-year-old woman who lives next to Lake Baikal, skates up to six miles to check on her cows when they’ve strayed too far from her home. Very poetically, her first name means “Love” and her last name literally means “the one who walks on the sea.” Even Gogol couldn’t have given her a more appropriate name.

Photo: Alexey Vaskov

3. As the World Cup approaches, Alfa-Bank is trying to score a publicity goal: Lionel Messi just became Alfa-Bank’s newest ambassador. Messi, an Argentine soccer player who plays for FC Barcelona, has signed a one-year contract to be the face of Russia’s largest private bank. Alfa-Bank isn’t Messi-ng around when it comes to choosing its celebrities: Messi is the third-highest paid athlete in the world.

In Odder News

Photo:  Центральный район за комфортную среду обитания

  • A decades-long project to become the coolest bikers in the galaxy: here’s a summary of the Russian project to make the world’s first space motorcycle.

  • A side hustle is all good and well, but employees of a top-secret nuclear lab may have overstepped their boundaries when they tried to use facility computers to mine cryptocurrency.

  • Stick it to the (snow-clearing) man: Small children used nonviolent protest to stop a truck from demolishing their snow slide.

Quote of the Week

“Just what do these people want from me? I am minding my business and not touching theirs. I’ve got no spare time at all, and they are inviting me to Moscow!”

—Lyubov Morekhodova, the skating grandmother, on why she won’t go to Moscow

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Some of Our Books

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.
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.
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.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
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.

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