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Bookshelf Nominations > Bookshelf Nominations: RUSSIAN LITERATURE [now online]

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message 1: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Which books by Russian authors would you highly recommend for the shelf?

Note - "Russian Lit" is defined for our purposes as anything written by an author who self-identifies as being Russian.


Some background: We started an Asian Lit shelf not long ago, and after some excellent discussion (thanks to everyone who gave input to that) we decided that the definition of "Asian Lit" should be: written by an author who considers themselves to be Asian, regardless of where it's set, or where the author resides. I think the same standard should probably apply here.

There may be some debate about which regions are considered "Russian". If so, bring it! It's not a subject I know much about, so it'd be great if people with some expertise can enlighten the rest of us.


message 3: by Kim N (last edited Jun 11, 2012 07:31PM) (new)

Kim N (crossreactivity) Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Cancer Ward and In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


message 4: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Hard to pick from Dostoyevsky, but I'll add The Idiot.

The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol, still hilarious after all these years.

And Night Watch, the first in the series involving the eternal battle of the forces of light and darkness, as governed by a uniquely Russian bureaucracy and fraught with ambiguity about who the good guys really are.


message 5: by Guy (last edited Jun 11, 2012 08:19PM) (new)

Guy Sciancalepore | 19 comments The Night Watch is a good book, better movie. I really enjoyed Notes from the Ungerground.


message 6: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
I loved the film (original name Nochnoy Dozor), but haven't gotten around to reading the book yet.


message 7: by Anna (new)

Anna Kļaviņa (annamatsuyama) | 114 comments Movie is much better than Night Watch


message 8: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
I picked this up from the library the other day because I was intrigued: Любовник смерти
I'm not nominating it for the shelf, but just wondered if anyone had read any of Boris Akunin's books?


message 9: by Leo (last edited Jun 13, 2012 06:55AM) (new)

Leo Robertson (leoxrobertson) | 297 comments The Master and Margarita definitely, but I would advise you skip the Jesus parts (!) I found them confusing and they broke up the flow of the main story, and by the end it wasn't that necessary to have read them (I thought) :-)


message 10: by Lily Smalls (new)

Lily Smalls (lilysmalls) | 10 comments I loved Death and the Penguin by Andrej Kurkow.
I can highly recommend everything by Dostojevsky but my favourite is Crime and Punishment.
Some more classics: The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard by Tschechow.
It has been mentioned before but it's so brilliant I have to add it as well The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Sorry Leo, but I wouldn't skip the "Jesus parts".


message 11: by Leo (last edited Jun 13, 2012 06:58AM) (new)

Leo Robertson (leoxrobertson) | 297 comments Lily Smalls wrote: ...Sorry Leo, but I wouldn't skip the "Jesus parts".

Yeah, you´re probably right :-)!


message 12: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1321 comments Mod
Leo wrote: "The Master and Margarita definitely, but I would advise you skip the Jesus parts (!) I found them confusing and they broke up the flow of the main story, and by the end it wasn't that necessary to ..."

Leo, which translation did you read? Some of them flow better than others. The original translation is from the censored text, and leaves some sections out.

I'd also advise against leaving out the Jesus parts :-)


message 13: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Lily Smalls wrote: "I loved Death and the Penguin by Andrej Kurkow. "

OMG yes! I can't believe I forgot about that one. I love that book, but the sequel wasn't great. I'm not sure I ever got around to reading the third one in the series either.


message 14: by Lily Smalls (new)

Lily Smalls (lilysmalls) | 10 comments Ruby wrote: "Lily Smalls wrote: "I loved Death and the Penguin by Andrej Kurkow. "

OMG yes! I can't believe I forgot about that one. I love that book, but the sequel wasn't great. I'm not sure I ever got aroun..."


That's interesting. I haven't got around to reading the sequel yet. Most probably out of fear of disappointment. Still, I'm curious now and might give it a try soon despite an unpromising prospect.


message 15: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (last edited Jun 14, 2012 01:36AM) (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
I'll tell you the one thing you really need to know about it: There's NO PENGUIN. That's not a spoiler, BTW. The book is about his search for the penguin, but I honestly can't remember how it turns out. :)


message 16: by Leo (new)

Leo Robertson (leoxrobertson) | 297 comments Whitney wrote: "Leo, which translation did you read?"

The Penguin Books 1997 translation? I didn't know that about the translations, cheers! I want to re-read it so maybe I should find another version :-)


message 17: by Lily Smalls (new)

Lily Smalls (lilysmalls) | 10 comments Ruby wrote: "I'll tell you the one thing you really need to know about it: There's NO PENGUIN. That's not a spoiler, BTW. The book is about his search for the penguin, but I honestly can't remember how it turns..."

Oh, that's not what I expected. I actually loved the Penguin as sort of a character in the first book. Anyway, there is no way around reading the sequel myself to find out whether I like it or not. But thanks for your hint. I'm even more curious now.




message 18: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Me too. I think that's why I didn't love the second book. Mischa is missing from it :(


message 19: by Anna (new)

Anna Kļaviņa (annamatsuyama) | 114 comments A. wrote: "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn is a classic. Short, powerful, gripping."

I have skimmed the book and it looks very good. One day I will definitely read it.


message 21: by Petra (new)

Petra A. wrote: "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn is a classic. Short, powerful, gripping."

I really enjoyed One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich.
I'd also nominate Cancer Ward by Soltzhenisyn


message 23: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Awesome. I have some TBRing to do!


message 24: by Peter (new)

Peter Idone | 19 comments I was always partial to Demonsby Dostoyevsky. It is a highly charged political book for its time. I was particularly enthralled with the personality of one of the main characters, Stavrogin. He seems less a sociopath and more a guilt ridden nihilist. He's complex and I became totally transfixed by what this guy was capable of doing.

Another Russian work, although science fiction is Обитаемый островPRISONERS of POWER by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. Why the English translation doesent show up in the search window I don't know but it is on Goodreads. The Russian title is The Inhabited Island which was made into a very expensive two part film. It looks good but other than trailers I haven't seen it.


message 25: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Peter, if you look at "other editions" it'll show you the English (and other) translations. The original Russian is the main work, so other translations hang off of that entry. (Technically, that synopsis should be in Russian, but I can't be arsed fixing it right now!).

So, here's the link & cover to one of the English translations:
Prisoners of Power Prisoners of Power by Arkady Strugatsky
It's part 5 in a series it seems?


message 26: by Peter (new)

Peter Idone | 19 comments Ruby, thanks. Don't no how I missed the "other editions" but I did.

Prisoners of Power (got it right that time) is the 5th in the series of 10 books of which I've read two others: Beetle in the Anthill and The Time Wanderers I didn't know they were a series when I first started reading them. They work as for me as 'stand alone' novels. The alien super civilization, The Wanderers are featured heavily in these three books.They are referenced again outside of the Noon Universe series in Definitely Maybe


message 27: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Definitely need to bump those up my list!


message 28: by Peter (last edited Jul 02, 2012 06:04PM) (new)

Peter Gallo | 27 comments Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov
Mother by Maxim Gorky

I read Sholokhov's book maybe 15 years ago. It was impressive. I haven't read Gorky's novel


message 29: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (last edited Oct 27, 2012 07:04AM) (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Bookshelf updated as of today

I haven't added the last book mentioned, since the recommendation was by someone who hasn't read it. If anyone else has read it and wants to recommend it, feel free to nominate it here. And keep the recommendations coming :)


message 30: by Trinity (last edited Dec 05, 2012 09:47AM) (new)

Trinity (snappingturtle) | 9 comments The Secret History of Moscow is amazing, definitely recommend. Magical realism, good for those who enjoy works by Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint.

I loved Death and the Penguin. Quite disappointed to hear the penguin doesn't show up in the second book, and hadn't even realized there was a third book in the series.


message 31: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Has anyone read either The Line or The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin? I've seen some great reviews, but haven't read either of her novels.


message 32: by Helen (new)

Helen (helonwheels) | 7 comments ♪ Kim wrote: "Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Cancer Ward and In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn"


I can't agree on
Cancer Ward nor on The First Circle. I found them to be almost unreadable, a literary forced march, both in Russian and translated to English. But One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich gripping and nothing short of perfect.

I will recommend There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby by Ludmila Petrushevskaya.
And anything by Nikolai Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and so many others I'll have to make this a couple of posts.


message 33: by Jane (last edited Feb 20, 2013 10:26AM) (new)

Jane How about Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andrei Makine? Does this count as Russian? Written by a Russian in Paris. If you read it you will find out why he is Paris! Fabulous book. & a true story, more or less. It's pretty much about Russia ...


message 34: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
Thanks guys - see the first post, but in summary: as long as the writer self-identifies as Russian it's fair game.


message 35: by Robert (new)

Robert Mitchell | 23 comments A. wrote: "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn is a classic. Short, powerful, gripping."

Shukhov's fervent "Press it down!" has followed me for thirty years.


message 36: by Jet (new)

Jet (dadoftheyear) | 24 comments AHHH! All of my loves were taken from me and I'm not sure what to post now!

I absolutely adore Russian Lit, so this is hardly fair for me, but I suppose I'll have to choose The Gambler because Sergei Prokofiev did a wonderful opera based on it, and that's just another love of mine! Of course, if you translate the titles from Russian to English, you'll get funny little moments ("I...I...I...won?" was one of my favorites), and that just makes it all the more worth it, in my opinion!


message 37: by Ruby , Mistress of Chaos (new)

Ruby  Tombstone Lives! (rubytombstone) | 3260 comments Mod
I'm going to add The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel into the mix. I've only heard one of the stories but it was brilliant.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17...


message 39: by Jan (new)

Jan | 62 comments Crime and Punishment was my introduction to Russian literature.


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