I picked up “Vita Nostra” largely out of curiosity. I’d never heard of the authors before, but I’m always up for some Russian literature in translation, and the fact that it was contemporary fantasy made it even more intriguing. But when diving into these things, you never know what you’re going to get. And indeed, […]
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I’ve been a big fan of the Penny White series since I read the first book, and “The Business of Bees,” the 8th book in the series, does not disappoint. In fact, the series just goes from strength to strength. If you haven’t read any of the earlier books, you might want to go back […]
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In “We Are the Weather,” Jonathan Safran Foer argues, essentially, that it is our moral imperative to adopt a vegan-before-six diet if we care at all about attempting to prevent the destruction of the human race through human-caused climate change. Although it’s a bit more complicated than that. Safran Foer begins by laying out the […]
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“Day of the Oprichnik” has been hailed as one of the classics of post-Soviet fiction, and for good reason. It’s a brilliant satire of Russian society past and present. It’s also deeply disturbing and difficult to read for that reason. But first, the title. Since Russian doesn’t have articles, the literal translation of the original […]
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A Parliament of Crows “A Parliament of Crows” is another installment in Alan M. Clark’s collection of “horror that happened” historical mystery/horror books. It tells the story, based on historical fact, of the three Mortlow sisters, who went on a killing spree that lasted decades. The story could have been lurid, and there are certainly […]
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In “The Dead Wander in the Desert,” we see the final, painful days of the Soviet Union, juxtaposed with the final, painful days of the Aral Sea, as a once-bountiful land dries up and turns to a poisonous, salt-filled desert. The characters in the book fight to preserve the sea, but in vain: the central […]
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“The Slynx” is one of those works that kept circulating on the edge of my reading consciousness. People were always bringing it up in conversation as something that, of course, we’d all read. Except that I hadn’t. So I finally decided to rectify this error and fill this lacuna in my reading knowledge. Let’s get […]
Read more "#TranslationThursday “The Slynx” by Tatyana Tolstaya"
Probably the Russian literature event of the year in the English-speaking world has been the publication of the English translation of Vasily Grossman’s “Stalingrad,” the first part of his two-part series about the battle of Stalingrad that concludes with “Life and Fate.” Me reading “Life and Fate” for my PhD comps while camping out on […]
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Bloody Creek Murder I’ve been following along the Winston Radhauser series since the beginning, and have been enjoying it more and more. In this, its sixth installment, the author does a particularly excellent job of combining mystery with family drama. The mixture both brings out the pathos of the interpersonal situation the characters find themselves […]
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Fasten your seatbelts, Russianists: it’s about to get weird. Well, maybe no weirder than usual for literature of this period. Russian literature of the early 20th century was gloriously, insanely bizarre. Writers were flying their freak flag high, and reveling in it. “Beyond Tula” is a case in point. Although in fact, it’s no weirder […]
Read more "“Beyond Tula: A Soviet Pastoral” by Andrei Egunov-Nikolev"