A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Book review: Black Earth City, by Charlotte Hobson (Amazon / Book Depository) ‘You must understand,’ said Rita Yurievna, ‘that in Russian, verbs are not only about action. They are also about the experience. Think how different it feels if you walk down a street every morning of your life, and if you walk down it for the first and only time. It maybe be the … Continue reading A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Svetlana, In and Out of Stalin’s Shadow

Book review: Stalin’s Daughter, by Rosemary Sullivan (Amazon / Book Depository) “What would it mean to be born Stalin’s daughter, to carry the weight of that name for a lifetime and never be free of it?” “I want to explain to you, he broke my life.” Even writing a biography showing the many sides of Svetlana Alliluyeva often ignored by media, multiple governments, and history, … Continue reading Svetlana, In and Out of Stalin’s Shadow

Women’s Voices Tell the Stories of Russia at War

Book review: The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Alexievich Amazon Yet another book about war? What for? There have been a thousand wars—small and big, known and unknown. And still more has been written about them. But…it was men writing about men—that much was clear at once. Everything we know about war we know with “a man’s voice.” When I came to polish up … Continue reading Women’s Voices Tell the Stories of Russia at War

A Girl, Growing Up and Growing Wiser, in Leningrad

Book review: A Mountain of Crumbs, by Elena Gorokhova Book Depository This memoir has one of the most beautiful and intensely evocative openings I’ve read in a long time: I wish my mother had come from Leningrad, from the world of Pushkin and the tsars, of granite embankments and lace ironwork, of pearly domes buttressing the low sky. Leningrad’s sophistication would have infected her the … Continue reading A Girl, Growing Up and Growing Wiser, in Leningrad

Advice From The Forests of Russian Fairytales

Book review: Ask Baba Yaga, by Taisia Kitaiskaia The Hairpin is one of those sites I always mean to read, then don’t. I’ve read some great pieces there, also some that are too hipster for my taste. Apparently one long-running feature of the site was an advice column, featuring the typical everyday problems of life, love, loss, and existential dilemma, only with a twist – … Continue reading Advice From The Forests of Russian Fairytales

“Imagine you have a country and no one to run it.”

Book review: The Man Without a Face, by Masha Gessen Amazon / Book Depository “Imagine you have a country and no one to run it. This was the predicament that Boris Yeltsin and his inner circle thought they faced in 1999.” What do we really know about Vladimir Putin? What beyond the carefully orchestrated and controlled images, crafted to underscore his macho masculinity and infallible … Continue reading “Imagine you have a country and no one to run it.”

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov (Amazon / Book Depository) So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there? A path of defeats, misery and rage. A path that … Continue reading A Voice from the Gulag

Russia Through The Lens of Chelyabinsk

Book review: Putin Country, by Anne Garrels (Amazon / Book Depository) “When the meteor hit Chelyabinsk, it blazed across the sky, spewed out its shards, and then sank quietly into a lake. That’s what many hoped the breakup of the Soviet Union would be like. It would end with a compliant Russia as benign as the rock that is now sitting in Chelyabinsk’s museum. That has not occurred. … Continue reading Russia Through The Lens of Chelyabinsk