Monthly Archives: December 2009

Some New Russian Literature

Some of my favorite books are by Russian authors. Most of these are written by authors long deceased and epically revered: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Chekov. While these are obviously classics that everyone should have the privilege to read, I have lately been excited to discover some new Russian literature that is in keeping with the tradition of these late greats.

Two of these books are:

“There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried to Kill her Neighbor’s Baby”

by: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

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and

“The Sacred Book of the Werewolf”

by: Victor Pelevin

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These books are both amazing. “There Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill her Neighbor’s Baby” is a collection of Russian Fairy tales written by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya and translated by Keith Gessen and Anna Summers. Honestly, this is by far the scariest book I have ever read. I italicize that for emphasis–because I really cannot emphasize it enough! It is beautifully written and very distinctly Russian in it’s tone, and completely unlike anything I have ever read before.

“The Sacred Book of the Werewolf,” by Victor Pelevin is masterfully written as well, and also has a very distinctly Russian tone to it’s prose. This book was a New York Times Book Review notable book of the year, and their review calls it “Racy, thought-provoking, and preverse…A joy to read.” The plot involves a two-thousand year old werefox who hypnotizes men for money in modern Russia. It is both incredibly insightful and outrageously funny. In a book that starts out with a sentence like this in the first paragraph: “ I had a dreary, depressed feeling so deep in my soul that I was almost ready to believe I had one” is enough to hook me from page one.

I hope you give these books a shot, they are well worth it! These books prove that Russian literature is still at the top of its game.

Bonnie

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