Branching Out

DiscussãoFans of Russian authors

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Branching Out

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1sandfly Primeira Mensagem
Ago 8, 2006, 3:55 pm

So far I think I have done a decent job of reading most of the mainstream Russian authors. Mainstream meaning what is widely available at bookstores/libraries in the US. However, I would like to read some more of the lesser known authors. So, if anyone could give me suggestions as to where to look that would be great.

Ago 27, 2006, 10:49 am

Perhaps you could try browsing Amazon lists ('So You'd Like To...' and 'Listmania')?
This one ( is pretty informative, but I'm not really sure of how mainstream they all are.

I can definitely recommend Summer in Baden-Baden by Tsypkin though; it's not widely known, but it's a great and intense book.

Ago 27, 2006, 11:26 am

Moscow Stations by Erofeev is another book that deserves to be known better, it manages to be both funny and moving.

Editado: Out 9, 2006, 9:56 am

These are all Russian books that are well worth reading, despite being lower profile:
Vassily Aksyonov's The Burn - a scathing attack on a Soviet Union in the 1970s in which the people have lost both their idealism and their fear
Lydia Chukovskaya's Sofia Petrovna - written in secret in 1940, a simple tale about a mother who loves both her son and her country, but struggles to reconcile why the two should come into conflict
Sergei Dovlatov's The Invisible Book - a funny and quirky (and very short) journey through censorship in the Russian literary scene in the 1960s and 1970s
Yuri Buida's The Zero Train - a post-Soviet Union allegory about the bewilderment of a country which went from socialist idealism to Stalinism in the blink of an eye

The burn is a seriously involved and, at times, difficult read, but it is possibly my Russian number one, Dostoevsky aside, although Erofeev, mentioned above by Jargoneer runs it close.

Editado: Fev 14, 2008, 4:53 am

I would recommend:

-- anything at all you can get your hands on by Leonid Dobychin, such as The Town of N and Encounters with Lise and other stories

-- anything by Daniil Kharms, a lately rediscovered absurdist writer, e.g., Incidences

-- Fyodor Sologub's The Petty Demon -- I think Sologub is classed as a Symbolist.

-- Kangaroo by Yuz Aleshkovsky is a wild one, but (and this of course is just my opinion) I think the voice is a bit too derivative for repeated reading

I don't really know what's available in bookstores in the US (I am in the UK, and in Cornwall - rural UK - at that) but these authors would be extremely unlikely to show up on our bookshop shelves.

Fev 14, 2008, 5:44 am

Nina Berberova, who lived in the US after Paris, and taught at Princeton. She wrote The Accompanist which was made into a French film, a biography of Alexander Blok whom she knew, collections of short stories like The Tattered cloak, The Italics are Mine, an autobiography covering the emigre years in Paris with friends like Zinaida Hippius the poet;

Ivan Bunin the Nobelist and short story writer,

Vassily Grossman for Life and Fate, a modern War and Peace set during WWII,

Leskov and Kuprin for short stories,

Oblomov by Goncharov

Joseph Brodsky another Nobelist for essays and poetry,

and the many other great modern russian poets: Blok,

Some lighter stuff by emigres like Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan, and The russian debutante's handbook,

There are Jews in my House by Lara Vapnyar ,

and the sad and heroic memoirs of Mandelstam's wife Nadezhda mandelstam Hope against hope and Hope Abandoned.

Editado: Fev 14, 2008, 6:03 am

I wanted to add Ludmilla Petroshevskaya's The time: Night and Natasha by David Bezmozgis

Fev 14, 2008, 6:41 am

To the wonderful poets listed in >6 almigwin:, I would add the Revolution-era peasant poets Sergei Esenin and Nikolai Klyuev. Esenin is highly uneven (the drunker he got, the more uneven he became!) but his best work is excellent. Klyuev, an Old Believer, is perhaps a greater poet, but more difficult. Neither is easy to get hold of in English translation (not in New Zealand, where I live, anyway, although New Zealand poet Charles Brasch did publish a book of translations from Esenin).

Fev 14, 2008, 9:32 am

Among the poets, I love Nikolai Zabolotsky. I would like to find out a bit more about him, because I know his poetry on Soviet themes, which believe it or not is just fantastic. But this morning while flipping through books I saw that he was affiliated with absurdists such as Kharms in his earlier days. What an about face! Or is it?

Set 3, 2012, 12:29 pm

I've posted on another thread about two excellent writers that I've just translated (so yes, I am promoting them, but I also believe their work is excellent).

Maxim Osipov is one of the finest writers of short fiction in Russia today. He is regularly hailed as "the new Chekhov" - grappling with distinctly Russian issues but with universal resonance. His short story "Moscow - Petrozavodsk" won the Yuri Kazakov prize for short fiction in 2010 (I think it was 2010). The translation is due to be published today at The White Review, although it's not yet live as I write this. If you feel like a read, you can find The White Review here:

The second writer is Alexei Nikitin, very different to Osipov. His novel Istemi will be published in English translation in January. The current blurb on Amazon isn't quite right, but I think it will probably be changed. It's a novel about young lives ruined in the twilight years of the Soviet Union - a short novel, but with astounding scope.

Set 4, 2012, 10:59 am

Seconding Daniil Charms, and adding a forgotten author of jewish-Russian literature: Der Nister. His epic family chronicle The Family Mashber can stand between the best of Dostoevsky and Tolstoi.

Set 4, 2012, 6:39 pm

Steven_VI: Thanks for the Der Nister recommendation - have not heard of him.

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