Arkady Babchenko As crazy fate would have it, today was the day that the article I co-wrote with WFU student Logan Stinson, “One Soldier’s War and the New Literary War Hero,” about the memoir by war correspondent and journalist Arkady Babchenko, was scheduled to come out. Crazy fate because yesterday afternoon a notification popped up […]Read more "Arkady Babchenko, One Soldier’s War, and Holy Fools"
Asan Vladimir Makanin “Asan wants money. Asan wants blood.” Within the emerging genre of “Chechen,” as in referring to the recent Chechen wars, prose, Vladimir Makanin’s “Asan” has engendered controversy. To a field zealously guarded by its veterans, the non-veteran Makanin has contributed two works: the novella “Caucasian Captive” (Кавказский пленный) and now the novel […]Read more "“Asan” by Vladimir Makanin"
Kavkazskii plennyi Vladimir Makanin I have to be upfront here and say that I’ve only read Kavkazskii plennyi, not the rest of the stories in this collection, so I can only judge that. But anyone interested in the development of contemporary Russian literature and its relationship with its illustrious past will definitely want to read […]Read more "“Captive of the Caucasus” by Vladimir Makanin and “Captive” by Aleksey Uchitel"
Hadji Murad Delphi Classics edition, with portrait of Tolstoy Decades after his time in the Caucasus, and years after he had turned his back on writing the kind of fashionable, worldly novels that had propelled him to fame, Tolstoy took up his fiction-writing pen again in order to create “Hadji Murad,” often considered to be […]Read more "“Hadji Murad” by Leo Tolstoy"
Prisoner of the Caucasus Leo Tolstoy I have, for my sins, agreed to write up an entry on Christian-Muslim relations in Tolstoy for the University of Birmingham’s project on Christian-Muslim relations in literature. I say “for my sins” because Tolstoy suffered from acute graphomania throughout his long life, and the disease must be contagious, because […]Read more "“Prisoner of the Caucasus” by Leo Tolstoy"
Recently author Brian Van Reet and I had a long chat about art, war, life–pretty much everything. In Part I of our conversation we discussed, among other things, the process of literary creation, the military-civilian divide, and feasibility of reinstating the draft. The continuation of our conversation is below. EPC: I think it can be hard […]Read more "My Chat with Veteran and Author Brian Van Reet About Literary Creation and Military Service, Part II"
The New Literary War Hero of Chechnya, Iraq, and Afghanistan Image from “Ninth Company,” dir. Fyodor Bondarchuk When I began reading and writing about contemporary Russian war prose, especially connected to the Chechen wars, I thought that the Russian/Chechen experience, and the literature coming out of it, was unique. And of course the Chechen wars […]Read more "My Chat with Veteran and Author Andy Owen about War, Literature, and PTSD, Part II"
The New Literary War Hero in the Age of the Global War on Terror (Image from the film “Captive,” dir. Aleksey Uchitel) While this blog was originally focused mainly on my side hustle job of writing and reviewing fantasy, readers may have noticed a certain focus on matters military in recent posts, as in my […]Read more "My Chat with Andy Owen About War, Literature, and PTSD, Part I"
What can I say about Politkovskaya that I haven’t already said? Maybe that this book, written specifically for publication abroad, is perhaps the most foreigner-friendly of her works. Unlike “A Dirty War,” which is a compilation of her early articles on the second Chechen war, or later books such as “A Russian Diary,” which are […]Read more "“Putin’s Russia” by Anna Politkovskaya"
A historical overview of the first Chechen war, and the first couple of years of the second, with comparisons of the Chechen situation with that of other autonomous republics of the RF such as Tatarstan, and discussions of possible outcomes. This is a detailed and informative book on post-Soviet Chechnya. While well-written, it is unquestionably […]Read more "“The Chechen Wars” by Matthew Evangelista"