Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life Stories

The golden age of the Russian literature is over, but it doesn't mean that nothing was written in Russian since Tolstoevsky. There are many new talented writers in the modern Russia, who are pondering over the past, the present and the future of the country. Literature in Russia is been used to do the job of philosophy and sociology.

A good way to get to know the modern Russian literature and familiarize yourself with writers' names is to find a book, where most of them are united under one cover. And this book already exists! This book is Life Stories: Original Works by Russian Writers

In Russian (I've bought the book in Russian), it is titled This book united writers, if it hadn't they would never have been published under one cover". There is a good reason for such a long and clumsy title. The book has a special purpose: 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will go to benefit Russian hospice, it is a not-for-profit organization that helps fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories. This was the key idea that has united very different writers like Eduard Limonov, Victor Erofeev, Boris Grebenshchikov, and Evgeniy Grishkovets. The nineteen stories has no common topics other than life. The publisher said, “They are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination. Masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today, these tales reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways.”

Among 19 writers who published their short stories here, are prominent names, almost classics, i.e. Vladimir Voinovich and Boris Akunin, Vlasimir Sorokin and Victor Pelevin, however, some of the writers were absolutely new to me. So far, my most pleasant discovery is Marina Moskvina. Her style is adourable, and I'm very likely to buy more of her books. I love Boris Grebenshchikov as a musician, but he turned out to be a great writer too, he has specific dead serious and absurd humor.

Since the book is kind of a patchwork, some stories are better than others. Some writers went to the “favorites” shelf, and others were labeled with the “never more” tag. Here is what a reader said in the review at Amazon.com, “ There is much sadness in this collection, but there is humor and joy too, and all presented in the rich Russian tradition. It's a great way to discover Russian writers of today. A gem, not to be missed!” I use this book as a guide to the modern literature and it is definitely worth its price.