Russian Readers Club discussion


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message 1: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I am currently reading A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir. It is really, really good. It is an autobiography about how it is to grow up behind the Iron Curtain. The author was born in 1956. What is amazing is you see her with a given personality and you see how she matures and questions life around her. You come to understand both her as a person and the Russian life and culture around her. She questions everything. That is who she is! As a child, as a teenager and as an adult. Some of her questions reveal Russian culture and other questions are those that trouble all individuals, not just Russians. And it is funny! I have about 100 pages left. So far it is great.

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Richardson (paulerichardson) | 18 comments Natalia:
Well, if I can offer a bit of shameless promotion, we just published a new novel, out today (!), Fish: A History of One Migration. It is a piece of contemporary Russian fiction, beautifully translated, and it is decidedly not of the dark, post-modernist strain that seems to have swamped much of modern Russian fiction. It is a really powerful story of a Russian "everywoman" caught up in the turmoil of the Soviet collapse, struggling to keep her family and her life together. And it was written by one of Russia's best modern writers, Peter Aleshkovsky. You can read more about it, and Peter, at The book is available through

I also second Chrissie's appraisal of A Mountain of Crumbs. Superb book. Also check out The Line by Olga Grushina.

Keep reading!


message 3: by Linda (new)

Linda O’Leary | 2 comments I just finished "Fish," and am unable to find the words to give it a review. Paul, your description is so simple, but the book is so much more. Since this is a "recommendations" topic, Natalia, I highly recommend this book. I don't think you will find it at the library though - I got mine through I will definitely be going back for more. Paul, recommendations besides the other 2 you listed?

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Richardson (paulerichardson) | 18 comments Linda: Thanks for the good words. Yes, we are finding people either REALLY REALLY are moved by the novel, or just can't get into it. Glad you were among the former. The first few dozen pages are such a different world - Central Asia - and it takes a bit to wrap your mind around this. But Vera's story is truly moving.

Tell me what sorts of fiction you like, and I might be able to come up with some recommendations. I can highly recommend Stalina, which is coming out from Amazon's in-house publishing arm this month I believe. Very well done story of a Soviet woman in emigration.

And, since you asked, I can't restrain myself from mentioning CHTENIA, our quarterly of Russian fiction in translation. The coming issue (#13, "Luck") has such an amazing collection of stories. I was proofing them last night and was just blown away by several of them, including one by Bunin, a first-ever translation of Georgy Ivanov's memoir, and an absolutely stunning story by Russian-American author Alexei Bayer.

message 5: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I moved this from another thread. I believe I have found the right one now!

I just finished Two Babushkas. I really liked it. For this reason I wanted to tell others about it. Here is my GR review which explains why I loved it so much:

And I kind of need some help. I just gave up on The Family Mashber after reading 150 pages..... Here is why I stopped reading:

This is classified as A New York Times Classic. Yes, you do get a very clear picture of the Jewish life at the end of the 1800s in a provincial Ukranian town. There is very clear depiction of the Bratslaver sect of Hasidism. However the story never engaged me . I could not relate to these people. Could sombody who has read this explain to me what I am missing. Did I give up too early? Should I have kept on reading?


message 6: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Linda, it was great to hear what you said. I had added Fish to my lists too. Thumbs up.

Paul, could you give us a link to the CHTENIA site? Is it written in Russian. I cannot read that. Is Stalina written by Emily Rosen? I found it registered here at GR but there is not book description. I am not even sure if I have the correct book. I would really appreciate if you could add more information here at GR. Anybody can enter a book!

Are you speaking of Ivan Bunin. I prefer novels over short stories. Could you tell me a bit about Grammar of love? Isn't this a novel? On what is it focused. I also love memoirs.

I really, really would appreciate more links! Alexei Bayer was not listed here at GR. I really would like to read the things you are suggesting but I am a bit lost. I need more info! Thanks in advance.

message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda O’Leary | 2 comments Chrissie, try this:

If you have not yet subscribed to the magazine, I highly recommend it. You'll learn stuff ;+) (BTW, I just subscribed to Chtenia. Just this very minute!)

message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Richardson (paulerichardson) | 18 comments Hi. The most direct link is simply

Yes: Stalina. Emily Rubin (Amazon Encore, $14.95). Not sure it is out yet. But we are reviewing it in Russian Life, so I can post the specs...

Another recommendation (also in next RL review pages) is Graham Hettlinger's excellent new translation of Maxim Gorky's Childhood, out this month from Ivan Dee. Graham is a brilliant translator of Bunin (one of his stories in the coming Chtenia), and he brings Gorky's autobiography alive.

message 9: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Thank you both for your help. I found My Childhood, but tnot the translation by Hettlinger! What is the GR link to this book? Thanks.

message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Richardson (paulerichardson) | 18 comments Hettlinger's translation is not yet out. Will be shortly, however.

message 11: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I see.

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