Russia Beyond editors picked their favorite novels by Russian writers and advise you to include them in your summer or vacation reading list. And here's why.
1. Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov - 'The Twelve Chairs'
Cheerful and humorous summer reading!
This dilogy will take you into an adventurous travel all over Russia with two tricksters seeking easy money. Former landowner, Ippolit Vorobyaninov, goes to the fictitious town of Stargorod in search of the family jewels that his mother-in-law sewed into the upholstery of one of the chairs. After the Revolution, all the chairs appeared scattered across the country. Conman Ostap Bender finds himself in the same place by pure chance and eagerly suggests to help Ippolit in his diamond quest.
2. Mikhail Bulgakov - 'The Master and Margarita'
Very atmospheric and mystic; you won't be able to tear yourself away!
This is the writer's magnum opus, a satirical and supernatural tale of how the devil and his demonic retinue pay a visit to 1930s Moscow. Dr. Woland the Satan opposes the new evil: bureaucratic, impersonal Soviet officials. The Master is writing a novel about Jesus (which chapters are partially included in the main novel plot). It is incredibly appropriate in those Soviet anti-religious times - and he has no chance to publish his manuscript, but, at the same time, no chance to stop writing it. Faust-like, Margarita sells her soul to the devil and becomes a witch in order to save the Master, the man she loves.
3. Ivan Bunin - 'Dark Avenues'
When all you need is colorful novellas about love!
The first Russian Nobel Prize winner for literature wrote this list of short stories in emigration and they are a last shard of the great Russian noveling tradition. All the stories tell in a very gentle manner about love and passion - but illegal and impossible. Young ladies being seduced, strange affairs of people from different social classes and the unhappy love that brings suffering... All those plots are mixed up with some sweet memories about first love. For the time it was written, that was absolutely shocking, honest content, but would still thrill any reader.
4. Fyodor Dostoyevsky - 'The Brothers Karamazov'
Because you won't find any other time!
While all the Russian school kids read 'Crime and Punishment' in summer (and, subsequently, hate Dostoyevsky), we would suggest you turn your eye to this extraordinary novel. It has all that a Dostoevskian Russian novel has to offer: unhappy love, seeking a meaning of life, philosophy, fathers-and-son problems, madness and, finally, searching for God.
At the same time, the plot is actually a detective story with strong investigation and powerful court monologues. The story revolves around the murder of the dissolute Fyodor Karamazov, most likely by one of his sons... And, for sure, money and a woman are involved.
5. Strugatsky Brothers - 'Roadside picnic'
To dive deep into a parallel universe!
The most famous book of the most famous Soviet sci-fi duo, which became a literary basis of Andrei Tarkovsky's movie 'Stalker' (1974) and a series of video games. It's the 1970s when several weird 'Zones' appeared on Earth, where the laws of physics don't work. People are not allowed to enter these Zones, but so-called 'stalkers' still illegally enter them gathering artifacts with alien features and then earning money selling these objects on the black market. These items might be dangerous for mankind, however, if they end up in the wrong hands. The stalkers risk their lives everyday, but also realize that they can't live without the Zone.
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