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The Big Green Tent

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,131 ratings  ·  278 reviews
An absorbing novel of dissident life in the Soviet Union, by one of Russia’s most popular writers, The Big Green Tent is the kind of book the  term “Russian novel” was invented for. A sweeping saga, it tells the story of three school friends who meet in Moscow in the 1950s and go on to embody the heroism, folly, compromise, and hope of the Soviet dissident experience. Thes ...more
Hardcover, 587 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2010)
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,131 ratings  ·  278 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cruelty and loneliness.....
Soviet dissident movement....1950's --through 1990's with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Post Stalin era....
Non-linear storytelling: YOU WILL GET FRUSTRATED AND LOST AT TIMES......but then something really interesting draws you in like ancient rituals and moral maturity--- and how that plays out between boys and girls when schools are no longer segregated in the USSR.
The 'beginning' of thi
Acoperind peste jumătate de secol din istoria Rusiei, de la moartea lui Stalin până la câțiva ani după dizolvarea URSS, Imago este un roman excepțional, care-ți taie răsuflarea prin frumusețea, complexitatea, dar și amărăciunea lui. Este o carte copleșitoare, care te cam strivește sub greutatea ei elefantină, așa încărcată cu talente irosite absurd și destine modelate cu pumni insensibili de fier, cu neșansa de a trăi într-un timp bolnav și putred, când viața e ca un labirint sufocant fără ieșir ...more
Brilliantly and creatively written, "The Big Green Tent" is a masterpiece likened to works of Russian masters of yore. An eye-opening and important book. It is a Russian culture expose encompassing the harsh and despondent realities of censorship. And let me stress, it requires a good bit of time and patience to digest; a behemoth undertaking for numerous reasons. The least being tome girth.

"Life outside the bounds of literature was harsh and abusive, but the world of books offered living thoug
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indecisa tra le quattro stelle e le quattro e mezza. Una lettura di peso e di soddisfazione. Un'opera strutturata e completa e che si posiziona perfettamente nel solco della grande tradizione letteraria russa. Mi sembra di scrivere delle banalità da fascetta, eppure il libro è esattamente questo… in comune con il grande romanzo russo ha non soltanto l'ambientazione ma soprattutto la trama importante con intrecci epici.

I protagonisti di questo romanzo sono artisti e cuori sanguinanti. Se me lo a
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
After reading Ulitskaya's 'The Funeral Party' last year, I thought I'd attempt the new, 2015 release 'The Big Green Tent' and I wasn't disappointed. This is mostly a story of three boys in the early 1950's as they attend school, grow up during a crazy time in the world and what they accomplish as they grow older. They are witnessing a time of change and national ideology, yet being scared of the government or even your neighbor hasn't changed: The death of Uncle Joe and Stalinism and the birth o ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The expression “May you live in interesting times” is believed to be an ancient Chinese curse. Centuries ago it was adopted by Russians and altered to become “God spare us from living in era of changes”. Doomed to eternal punishment by the history of their own country, Russians hope for a life in peace.

For generations, Russian writers have examined the lives drained by the love and hate relationship with their country. To name just a few: Leo Tolstoy with his “War and Peace”, Boris Pasternak wi
An engrossing story of life in Communist Russia. At times tragic, sometimes darkly funny, it brought home to me that people were living this way even into the 1970s. Life was claustrophobic and controlled. There was little in the way of privacy or freedom of choice. The only way to survive with any confidence was to toe the party line or, at the very least, to give the appearance of doing so.

I enjoyed the pace of this book, only my second audiobook. It’s impossible to compare the experience of l
Jderu Marius
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Categoric cea mai buna carte citita in 2016.
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I should have loved. It started out so good. It followed 3 friends and their favorite literature teacher but as the book went on and more and more and more and then some more characters were introduced it got fragmented and I lost interest. I considered a DNF but I did care enough about the main characters to finish also there were some really fun literary mentions. I have a feeling that this was just not the right book at the right time for me.
Andrei Florian
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Este o abordare interesanta a vremurilor tulburi din perioada KGB-ista a anilor 1950 din Rusia. Trei baieti de la aceeasi scoala devin prieteni desi erau diferiti unul de altul ca fel de a fi. Un profesor reuseste sa le prezinte o cu totul alta imagine a societatii, dominata de neincredere si teama, prin intermediul literaturii, a poeziei ce le prefigureaza imagini diferite ale istoriei, trecutul necunoscut al orasului dintr-o perspectiva oarecum idealizata. Impresiile create in perioada scolii ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translations
Beautifully written and evidently also beautifully translated, this novel was worthy of two weeks of my time! (Crazy!) Many changes in the time periods and the characters left me wondering how it all would fit together at times. I still feel as though I missed some of the connections, but I loved it anyway. Worthy of a re-read!
Roger Brunyate
Not Your Normal Novel

[NOTE: After posting the first half of this review, I received a thoughtful defense of the book by the friend who had first recommended it to me, Anna. Since she was so eloquent, and my own experience incomplete, I obtained her permission to post her account also, as a counterweight to my own review. My star rating now reflects both reviews: 3 stars for my own experience, 5 for hers, averaged to 4. rb]


"Precisely. Because all through the ages there have b
Ljudmila Ulitzkaja rückt die Sowjetunion der Poststalinära in den Mittelpunkt ihrer Erzählung. Ausgehend von drei Schulfreunden, entfaltet sie die gesamte Bandbreite der Lebenserfahrungen der Nachkriegsgeneration. Man liegt nicht daneben, wenn man behauptet, dass der Roman auf ein gewisses Nostalgiebedürfnis bei seiner russischen Leserschaft abzielt. Wer ungefähr im gleichen Alter der Protagonisten ist, wird sich wohl in etlichen Szenen an das eigene Leben erinnert fühlen. Verharrt der Fokus zun ...more
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
A fantastic book from a skilled author who knows the human heart. Ulitzkaja is my discovery of the year.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Stela by: Ema
The Guilt of the Innocent

“It’s a strange, inexplicable law that the most innocent people among us are the ones predisposed to the greatest sense of guilt.”

While looking up the Internet for possible meanings of the title of Ludmila Ulitskaya’s novel, I found this interesting information that, in the Qur’an, the martyrs are gathered in a big green tent at the shore of a river close to the door of Paradise, from which provisions are brought to them day and night. Therefore, they don’t enter Par
Imagine you are a boy growing up in 1950s Soviet Moscow. You are just a bit outside the norm for a schoolboy in those times, the type who is bullied, the type who has dreams about how his life might go. You find two other boys like you and form a bond that lasts for a lifetime.

Better yet, the three of you find yourselves in a class taught by a man who can bring literature alive and who takes you under his wing. You learn that not all of life needs to be lived in fear of the KGB, in lock step to
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dakle, ova žena... iz knjige u knjigu me sve više oduševljava i sve ju više volim.
A i njezinu Rusiju, od koje su kroz desetljeća načinili zatvor (u svakom smislu) i uništili ljude za generacije unaprijed. A opet... tako blisko. Strašno, strahovito, a blisko. I u svem strahu, uz humor, ljubav, povezanost. Malo ljudi zna ovako dobro pripovijedati. Ovako duboko ispreplesti sve, naoko, nepovezane ljude i događaje, tako da ostaneš bez daha.
Na kraju, do suza me dirnuo djelić u njezinoj osobnoj zahval
I love a good saga and this certainly fell within that class of book for me. It is not a family saga but a saga of life in the Soviet Union from the early 1950's to 1996, with most of the book from the time of Stalin's death through the 80's. The families, friends, and acquaintances provide support for the life stories of a group of three boys (Ilya, Mikha, Sanya) and a group of three girls (Olga, Tamara, Gayla). The book goes back and forth chronologically many times, returning to the boys and ...more
Roxana Cora
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dar câte crisalide mor fără să ajungă la ultima fază, fără să spargă coconul, nelăsând să iasă fluturele din el! Anima, anima, sufleţel drag… Multicolor, sprinţar, efemer – şi minunat. Cât de multe fiinţe rămân însă larve până la moarte, fără să înţeleagă că n-o să ajungă niciodată la maturitate!
Somehow cramming 20th century Russia into just under 600 pages works. Maybe the last 100 pages dragged a bit, but overall, this was kind of an easy read in terms of pace and tone, while being incredibly complicated in terms of characters and connections. Ulitskaya focuses on post-Stalinist Russia's aftermath on families and artists. From children who never got to know their parents thanks to state-initiated "disappearances", deadly imprisonments in labor camps, or exhiles-gone-wrong to adults tr ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
An epic love letter to Russian literature and history that delves into the soul of the Soviet people. The Green Tent is both chunky in terms of page count and density - certainly not a book to sail through quickly. It is a richly told coming-of-age tale of three young Soviet boys growing up in Moscow and the timeline begins on the day of Stalin’s death in 1953. In a nutshell this is a tale of samizdat, or the illegal reproduction and distribution of banned books in the Soviet Union, and how the ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-novel
Let me begin by saying Russian literature is not for everyone. I have been lucky enough in my life to be acquainted with the likes of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Turganev, Gorky and Gogol. Thus The Big Green Tent's style and rhythm were familiar to me. It's at once deep, complex, dark and gloomy-yet there is a measure of repressed joy and promise.
It's the story of dissidents in post Stalin Russia. Told primarily from the viewpoints of three elementary school friends (Ilya, Snya and Mikha) the story sp
Martha Tomhave
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read in decades. It initially seemed to be about three school boys and their lives from Stalin's death in the early fifties through the seventies, but it very quickly expanded to include their girlfriends, wives, relatives, friends, fellow dissidents and the KGB. But to say it's 'about' anything or anybody hardly conveys this book's magic: it's an extraordinary experience of feeling - yearning for freedom, joy in poetry, absorption in music, tiredness with tyranny, a ...more
Eva Lavrikova
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zhodou okolností mi dosť pripomínala Rankovov román "Stalo sa prvého septembra (alebo niekedy inokedy)", ktorý som si náhodou požičala z knižnice práve s týmto titulom...
Prehliadka povojnového Ruska prostredníctvom životných osudov troch kamarátov a ich blízkych. Čítanie to bolo miestami drsné, miestami dojemné, ale najmä neobvykle "skutočné". Obrovské množstvo literárnych, ale aj hudobných odkazov zjemňovalo inak krutú realitu príbehov, ktoré spolu viac či menej súviseli. Takmer až klasicky ru
quite a saga at almost 600 pages, set in ussr 1950's (but going back to 1825 decemberists, and pushkin and tolstoy and doestoevsky, this really is a novel of the politics, books, music, poetry, spirit and soul of russia) up to about 1991, but not really 1991, more like 1988, but also up to 1996.
it gets a bit rambling, with a cast of 1000's, with idea of 'fate' directing, or not directing humans pitiful ways of trying to be happy,friendly, fair, in love, being love vs avaricious, jealousy, sadism
Maria Roxana
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Minunată. O capodoperă.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aproape 5, dar nu chiar, pentru ca, dincolo de savoarea de necontestat a povestilor, mi-ar fi placut ca personajele -macar cele principale- sa fi avut o (si) mai mare consistenta.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
Tre stelle perché mi è piaciuto molto fino a 3/4 : bello l’intreccio, le descrizioni e i salti temporali , raccontare la fine e ritornare indietro mi avvinceva; poi la parte finale ( colpa mia o troppo trascinato) ha iniziato ad annoiarmi un po’. Comunque consigliato.
This is a very big book, and a marvelous introduction to the beauties and pain of life in the former Soviet Union. I loved the premise, following a group of friends from Stalin through the rest of the century. However, I grew increasingly anxious as it dawdled on its way to the future. I wanted to devour this and felt I was being forced to sup slowly and lightly. Could be my schedule, but I would have slowed down if I was reassured we would get some real depth eventually, which I did not see on ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
Russians have a word, “byt,” that roughly translates as “everyday life,” standing as a contrast to high-culture concepts such as the arts, science and philosophy. And because Ludmila Ulitskaya’s latest novel, “The Big Green Tent,” is grounded in “byt” rather than historic events or abstract philosophical questions, it’s far more intimate and personal than what most people think of when they see a thick Russian novel.

The novel is still what one could call “sweeping”: not sweeping in the sense of
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Lyudmila Ulitskaya is a critically acclaimed modern Russian novelist and short-story writer. She was born in the town of Davlekanovo in Bashkiria in 1943. She grew up in Moscow where she studied biology at the Moscow State University.

Having worked in the field of genetics and biochemistry, Ulitskaya began her literary career by joining the Jewish drama theatre as a literary consultant. She was the
“Literature is the best thing humanity has. Poetry is the heart of literature, the highest concentration of everything that is the best in the world and in man. It is the only true food for your soul” 14 likes
“... we live in a society of larvae--immature human beings, adolescents disguised as adults.” 6 likes
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