Literary roundup: Happy Birthday Dostoevsky and the more things change

It’s Dostoevsky’s birthday today! Were he still alive, he would be eight years short of 200. It’s just as well that he isn’t though because like Solzhenitsyn in his cranky old age he would likely have a cable TV show that no one watches in which he ranted and raved against everything and everyone, except multiplied a hundred thousand times!

But that’s beside the point – it’s Dostoevsky’s birthday, a chance to commemorate one of the greatest writers ever, one whose books are still read and whose wisdom is still being studiously, even scientifically ignored. And at Russia Beyond The Headlines (RBTH), he is being commemorated by Russian literary historian Ludmila Saraskina answering readers’ questions in super rapid-fire manner. It’s actually a pretty surreal Q&A and somewhat frightening prospect for writers that a future reader will ask about you “Did X love his/her wife/husband?” and a literary historian will then give an authoritative answer that you yourself might have been hard pressed to provide.

Thirst on screen

Andrei Gelasimov’s Thirst was one of my Best Books of 2012 and now it’s been turned into a film. RBTH has an article, including a short clip in which the novelist and director discuss the work and you can see some of the film. I’m not sure it’s the kind of novel I’d want to see visualized – the protagonist’s war-damaged face, his drawings that are likely more evocative in description than seen – but I’ll see it if I get a chance. The article concludes with a patriotic crescendo they felt necessary to put in boldface (maybe they thought Putin skims these articles and if he’s going to read just one sentence this should be it). Uh, well . . draw your own conclusion, I suppose.

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