Russian Readers Club discussion

Monthly Reading Nominations

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Per a previous suggestion, I've opened this thread for ongoing nominations for future reads. Somebody wise in the group suggested this way we could have enough lead time to decide and order books for the next month (assuming we continue on a monthly schedule). I'm carrying over some nominations from the last vote. Feel free to add anything.

Bulgakov, Heart of a Dog
Chekhov, The Duel
Dostoevsky, The Gambler / The Double
Tolstaya, On the Golden Porch

message 2: by David (new)

David (violentlythirsty) | 13 comments Goncharov's Oblomov

message 3: by David (new)

David (violentlythirsty) | 13 comments Really, I would love to read The Gambler / The Double

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

My used copy of We just came in, but all I've done with it so far is tape the cover back on. I'll crack it open today.

Platonov, The Foundation Pit
Kharms, Today I Wrote Nothing
Tolstaya, On the Golden Porch (aka the first 1/2 of White Walls)

I'm completely game for the other recommendations as well. Kharms is a very easy read and, though he doesn't have any complete novels, his life itself is such an amazing story. I've been interested in getting my hands on this new translation and anything else which samples the Oberiu era. He's the crazy side of Russian writings under Stalin.

message 5: by The Narrator (new)

The Narrator (thebirchegg) | 10 comments Mod
I vote Cement by Gladkov but am game for anything

message 6: by Anna (last edited Sep 04, 2008 12:15PM) (new)

Anna | 12 comments I'm backing up the Platonov and Chekhov choices!
And I'm adding Dovlatov Sergei. Mainly because he once said: "One can revere Tolstoy's mind. Delight in Pushkin's finesse. Appreciate the spiritual quest of Dostoyevsky. Gogol's humor. And so on. Yet Chekhov is the only one I would want to resemble." :)

Chekhov- his stories not plays
Platonov- The Foudation Pit
Dovlatov- The Foreign Woman

David believe me Oblomov would bored us all to death.

message 7: by Tom (new)

Tom Ha, great line, Anna! I'm passing it along to a friend who adores all mentioned in the quote. You know it's funny, when I first tried to read Chekhov in my early 20s, I found his stories dull and pointless, just didn't "get it." Chalk it up to callow and ignorant youth. Now, many years and a few translations later, I think he'd be the proverbial "one-book-to-save-if-the-house-were-burning-down" choice. (though collected I.B Singer stories might make me linger long enough, a copy of each author in each hand, to singe my eyebrows. In the end, though, I'd probably have to save Anton and leave behind Isaac Bashevis.

message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 18, 2008 05:26AM) (new)

I vote for:

ANY Bulgakov
The Women's Decameron, Voznesenskaya
The Double/The Gambler, Dostoevsky
Dead Souls, Gogol
Fathers and Sons, Turgenev

and, dare I:

War and Peace, Tolstoy
(I dare!)

MAAAYBE, I could just spearhead a thread for War and Peace and folks can jump in at their leisure. I am one who craves structure, so I would probably break it up into manageable reading chunks and perhaps post questions to stimulate a discussion...I don't know if there would be any biters? We could hold off until December, when the paperback of the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation prints, if anyone is willing to dive in with me?

message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Hayden Espenschade (lizok) | 17 comments There are lots of great suggestions here... I've already read and enjoyed most of these books but would definitely recommend several as particularly fun:

-Dovlatov -- my favorite so far is "The Compromise."
-"The Women's Decameron" -- a wonderful look at women in the USSR; I've read and enjoyed it a two or three times.
-Kharms -- "The Old Woman" is about 25 pages long and good for discussion, but most Kharms is interesting.

"War and Peace" is my all-time favorite, and I'm planning to read it again this fall/winter, so Natasha, I'd be happy to read it with you!

message 10: by David (new)

David (violentlythirsty) | 13 comments Anything Kharms, Chekhov, or Dostoevsky.

Your right, Oblomov wouldn't be good for this.

message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 15, 2008 08:31PM) (new)

Well, say, we better get crackin on ordering next month's book. Here's what's risen to the surface.

Chekhov, The Duel (or other stories): 3 votes

Dostoevsky, The Gambler / The Double: 3 votes

Kharms, Today I Wrote Nothing: 3 votes

So, let's hear it. Anyone excited about any of these? "The Double" sounds fun.

message 12: by Tom (new)

Tom The Duel would be my top choice, but I'd be happy with The Double or The Gambler. Don't know anything about Kharms.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

The Double/The Gambler

message 14: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 9 comments I think The Double sounds really interesting.

message 15: by Anna (last edited Sep 17, 2008 10:00AM) (new)

Anna | 12 comments Natasha I believe that 'Fathers and Sons' wrote Turgenev ;)

Kharms sounds mysterious to me as well... and I like mysteries :)

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Bah! Thoughtless, accursed error, how I feeleth thy sting. I just bought a copy, too, and knew right where to look ;)

Though, Anna, you're probably right :D

message 17: by Aske (new)

Aske (froghourt) I am voting for Heart of a Dog again, at least until I get that Dostoevsky collection I have been ogling.

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, The Double it is, then? I snagged my copy last week and the lady at the checkout said this new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is really great.

message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom The Double is fine by me.

message 20: by Allison (new)

Allison | 1 comments Hi, I am currently studying in Russia and my third year classmates and I are looking for some contemporary russian novels or short stories to read. Any suggestions?

message 21: by Anna (new)

Anna Allison wrote: "Hi, I am currently studying in Russia and my third year classmates and I are looking for some contemporary russian novels or short stories to read. Any suggestions?"

What have you already read? And how good are your language skills? And how motivated are you? Have you tried the classics?

Standard suggestion: try Ulitskaya. I greatly enjoyed (if that's the right word)Похороните меня за плинтусом by Pavel Sanayev. And Andrei Kurkov's
Death and the Penguin was very popular with Western audiences(Russian title is Пикник на льду)and the language is relatively simple.

I'm currently reading
Библиотекарь. So far, so meh. But it might grow on me.

message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan | 7 comments Anna wrote: "Natasha I believe that 'Fathers and Sons' wrote Turgenev ;)

Kharms sounds mysterious to me as well... and I like mysteries :)"

I vote for fathers and sons or the gambler

message 23: by Zachary (new)

Zachary For those interested in Dostoevsky, I strongly recommend the essay published in the Summer 2009 Slavic Review by James Rice entitled "The Covert Design of The Brothers Karamazov: Alesha’s Pathology and Dialectic." Its a very nice piece looking at the health issues Dostoevsky faced in his own life (such as epilepsy and anxiety), and how this influenced and tied into Brothers Karamazov. A well done piece that helped me see new insights into this masterpiece.

As for a recommendation, perhaps I'd also float the idea of reading Fathers & Sons, which is on my shelf waiting to be read. Thanks.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 7 comments I would read fathers and sons with you- it is also on my shelf

message 25: by Zachary (new)

Zachary Sounds great. I'm ready to begin. Let me know if there are any next steps for the group, or if this will be something else.


message 26: by Zachary (new)

Zachary Susan (and other group members),

Make it official, I would like to put forth Fathers & Sons as the book for July. Since I am new to the group, should we make a new post section and open it as being read by group members for July? If there is a proper protocol for this let me know (other group members feel free to jump in here). I noticed this book was mentioned by a handful of others in this posting list, so I assume there is some backing behind it. Anyhow, if you feel its a good idea I'll make a new post and open the pathway for others to read it for the month of July.


Grada (BoekenTrol) (boekentrol) Natasha wrote: "I vote for:

ANY Bulgakov
The Women's Decameron, Voznesenskaya
The Double/The Gambler, Dostoevsky
Dead Souls, Gogol
Fathers and Sons, Turgenev

and, dare I:

War and Peace, Tolstoy
(I d..."

Oooh, War and Peace... I'll give it another try and dive into it too. I hope to find a decent translation: the Russian version was too much, even during my last year of university.

Your other suggestions are allright too. I must say that I'm not so very familiar with the contemporary Russian writers. Maybe this is the forum to find some recommendations?

message 28: by Paul (new)

Paul Richardson (paulerichardson) | 18 comments Can I suggest "The Little Golden Calf"? This masterpiece of Russian/Soviet literature is one of the funniest, most insightful works in modern Russian literature. Our publishing house is coming out with a brand new, fresh translation of this book in December. And I would be happy to extend a 20% discount to members of this group. Just order via our online store (instead of Amazon), and enter in the discount code "GR09". (Sorry for the shameless plug, but I have just read this book for the second time in as many months and it is just such a classic...) Here's the link to the new book...

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