Sunday, October 14, 2007

2008 Russian (Soviet?) Reading Challenge

For Ex Libris' Russian Reading Challenge, I think I will follow Dark Orpheus' example and make an aspirational list. More may be added as I go. The rules are immensely flexible; read 4 books by the end of the year. Of the following, I hope to read 4 classics and 4 modern novels during 2008. However, my list is more like the 'Soviet Reading Challenge' because I am also going to be reading Ukrainian books. I hope to go to Kiev in 2008 so this is a perfect fit. Here we go:

Russian Classics

1. The Master and Margarita / Mikhail Bulgakov
2. Anna Karenina / Tolstoy
3. Father and Sons / Turgenev
4. The Gentleman from San Francisco and other stories / Ivan Bunin
5. Eugene Onegin / Pushkin
6. The Gift / Nabokov

Russian Modern Novels
1. The Woman who Waited / Andrei Makine
2. The Summer of my Russian Grandmother / Andrei Makine
3. The Time Night / Lyudmila Stephanova Petrushevskaya
4. The Life of Insects / Viktor Pelevin

Ukrainian Classics
1. Taras Bulba / Gogol
2. Dead Souls / Gogol
3. Turbulent Times trilogy / Ivan Franko
4. Poetry by Taras Shevchenko
5. Poetry by Lesia Ukrainka

Ukrainian Modern Novels
1. Death and the Penguin / Andrey Kurkov
2. Any of the volumes of Women's Voices in Ukrainian Literature, published in Canada by Language Lanterns Publications.


I've read a few current Russian & Ukrainian books which I'd recommend to anyone participating in this challenge, such as

1. The Boris Akunin mysteries starring Erast Fandorin. There are more being translated all the time.

2. The Madonnas of Leningrad / Debra Dean : written by an American but set mostly during the Seige of Leningrad during WWII. Beautiful writing. This was one of my top reads last year.

3. The Dream life of Sukhanov / Olga Grushin : one of my favourite books so far this year. See my earlier thoughts about it.

4. Sonechka /Ludmila Ulitskaya : a novella and short stories, it's a good introduction to Ulitskaya's writing - very enjoyable


  1. I loved The Madonnas of Leningrad, too - wonderful book. I'm un-challenging myself, but I like the idea. Nabokov is a favorite of mine (particularly his short stories) and I read some of Checkov's early stories and fell in love. But, I need to branch out. I'll have to watch for your reviews, as you're reading.

    Have fun!

  2. Ludmila Ulitskaya is definitely an author I would like to read for the challenge. Or before. The whole anticipation is making me edgy.

    Let us aspire away.

    Kiev? I'm envious. That reminds me - you ever read "Lost Cosmonaut" by Daniel Kalder? It's a travelogue around some of the smaller countries that used to make up the Soviet Union.

  3. This is a great list. I have a thing for Russian books, so I have to revisit it later. I'm only doing one challenge at a time, and now it's the Canadian one. But I'm definietely coming back for this.

  4. I've read the first of Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin mysteries--I'd like to read more. I read the Madonna's of Leningrad as well--I especially liked the sections set in the Hermitage.

  5. Dark Orpheus - no, thanks for reminding me! I saw Lost Cosmonaut some time ago and had forgotten it. I'll have to go back and read it.

    John - it's all Canadian for now, and Russians in the bleak midwinter. :)

    Danielle - I like how Akunin uses different mystery conventions for each book. Hope you'll enjoy more of his.


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