New and Novel

This week’s new and newish books offer up some Russian murder, more Russian murder and ah, relief – an unraveling alcoholic Russian life! Well, don’t blame me, read about a school for wizards, S&M or the latest Junot Díaz if you want, but these books all look amazing.

 

 

 

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The Stone Bridge by Alexander Terekhov

On June 3, 1943, two bodies are discovered at the Great Stone Bridge, in the heart of Moscow. They are the teenage offspring of two of Stalin’s favourites: Volodya Shakhurin, the son of the People’s Commissar for the Aviation Industry, and the stunningly beautiful Nina Umanskaya, 15 years of age, the daughter of the former Soviet ambassador to the USA. By all accounts, the former shot the latter before turning the gun on himself. The Stone Bridge is a detailed historical reconstruction of the Stalinist era as seen through one man’s seven-year investigation into the case of the ‘young wolves’ – a Nazi-inspired secret society inside an elite Kremlin school. Based on a true story, The Stone Bridge resurrects actual historical figures and brings to light official documents from NKVD case files. The book shines the spotlight on a past with which the country has never properly come to terms, and which therefore – tragically – has a poisonous effect on present-day Russia.

Translated from the Russian by Simon Patterson and Nina Chordas

Published by Glagoslav Publications

Read more about the book here

 

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The Little Man: a novel by Liza Alexandrova-Zorina

Gangsters take complete control of an industrial town with its corrupt authorities, business, and police. Defending his daughter, the protagonist accidentally shoots the chief gangster and has to go into hiding, first among the homeless at the town garbage dump, and then in the forest among Saami deer-breeders. He becomes transformed from a “little man” into a people’s avenger, killing the corrupt mayor and the chief of police. Through a series of tricky manipulations, a different person is accused of the serial murders in the interests of the new gangsters, who seize control of the town in the end.

The setting—a town on the Kola Peninsula above the Arctic Circle where the author spent her formative years—is clearly meant as a portrait in miniature of all of Russia and expresses young people’s social discontent. Action-packed and highly revealing, this novel abounds in interesting ethnographic details related to the indigenous Northern tribes of Saami and life in the Northern provinces.

Translated from the Russian by Melanie Moore

Published by Glas New Russian Writing

Read more about the book here

 

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Pushkin Hills by Sergei Dovlatov

An unsuccessful writer and an inveterate alcoholic, Boris Alikhanov has recently divorced his wife Tatyana, and he is running out of money. The prospect of a summer job as a tour guide at the Pushkin Hills Preserve offers him hope of regaining some balance in life as his wife makes plans to emigrate to the West with their daughter Masha, but during Alikhanov’s stay in the rural estate of Mikhaylovskoye, his life continues to unravel.

Populated with unforgettable characters—including Alikhanov’s fellow guides Mitrofanov and Pototsky, and the KGB officer Belyaev—Pushkin Hills ranks among Dovlatov’s renowned works The Suitcase and The Zone as his most personal and poignant portrayal of the Russian attitude towards life and art.

Translated from the Russian by Katherine Dovlatov

Published by Counterpoint Press

Read more about the book here

 

 

Photo  – Nina Umanskaya and Volodya Shakhurin, May 31, 1943 (four days before the tragedy recounted in The Stone Bridge)/Glagoslav

 

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