Russian Books - (Travel) Memoirs, Non-Fiction, Guidbooks about RussiaMake Your Own List. Former Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year discusses books that tell the story of Russia in the last century — from Soviet science fiction set in capitalist wastelands to Khrushchev as raconteur. Francis Spufford is an award-winning writer and a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London. Before we start with your choices, what is it about 20th-century Russia that hooked you in? I think because it offers this frightening and strange yet still familiar cousin to the 20th century that I grew up in, as a safe comfortable Westerner.
Simon Sebag Montefiore's Recommended Reading on Russia and its Revolutions
Considered one of the most important books written in the Russian language, Eugene Onegin is a story written in poems. Although the love story plot is very simple, beneath the surface is a mirror-image of Russian society as it was in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The setting of the novel moves from the simple countryside to the posh capital of St Petersburg, creating an encyclopedic view of Russian life. The novel is divided into six parts arranged in non-chronological order. The character is first introduced through the memoirs of one of his friends and then through the journal of Pechorin himself. His character becomes a collective image of society at the time, including all its flaws.
Stalin, Vol. II: Waiting for Hitler, 1928-1941 by Stephen Kotkin: £35, Allen Lane
Russia is ever more fascinating to us and never more important than it is now in , the centenary of the Russian Revolution. From the time I wrote my first history book Catherine the Great and Potemkin , via my biographies of Stalin, to my new book The Romanovs — , which tells the history of the last four hundred years from Ivan the Terrible to Putin via the dynasty of tsars, I have been reading Russian fiction and history. Let me recommend some of the best to you. Of course this is a just fraction of the great books on Russia, but they are a good place to begin: I hope you enjoy. Once the Romanovs had succeeded and become tsars, the essential figure is Peter the Great: he set the highest level for political brilliance. Every Russian ruler from then onwards — including President Putin today — has wished to emulate Peter the Great. A brilliant overview is also provided by Catherine Merridale in Red Fortress , her history of the Kremlin.
This novel written during the time of the Cold War and published in centers on British agent Alec Leamas, who is ordered to fake defection from West Germany. He fakes an arrest and with the help of his communist girlfriend gets recruited to the East side. As his cover is suddenly revealed, so is the true objective of his mission. The novel has been granted a number of writing awards and was adapted into a movie. The Cold War is revisited twenty years after its ending, with the use of new archives and memories of its contemporaries.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and purchase a book, I receive a small commission. It does NOT cost you anything extra! That said — I only post things here that I genuinely like and would recommend to a close friend. More info at my disclosure page. Kristin Hannah writes about the Siege of Leningrad now St. Petersburg that lasted for almost two and a half years during World War II.