Russia in Fiction is a blog that reviews works of English language fiction about Russia. It is written and maintained by Edwin Bacon.
Edwin is an academic and the author of several books on Russian politics and history, as well as many academic articles.
His latest book, Inside Russian Politics, was published by Bloomsbury in 2017 and is available in paperback and as an e-book.
For a full list of books by Edwin Bacon see here.
Well, it’s not exactly literature, is it?P.M. Bacon
Russia in Fiction is not really about literature. It is definitely not about Russian Literature, of the capital R, capital L, variety. You will not find here reviews of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, or even —to mention a couple of my favourites— of Goncharov or Chekhov.
Nor is the Russia in Fiction blog about modern or contemporary Russian fiction. (With the occasional exception such as this short piece on Zavtrak c poloniem). Much as I love —to drop just another couple of names— the writings of Soviet author Yuri Trifonov or Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, this blog is not about Russian language literature. (Though sometimes, such as in the review of Michael Wallner’s The Russian Affair, relevant Russian literature provides context).
If that is what you are interested in, check out the superb Lizok’s Bookshelf blog.
Nor is Russia in Fiction about some of the less literary work of Russian authors.
Dmitrii Glukhovskii’s Metro 2033 and its sequels are a great read. Not only has the trilogy been translated into English, but I’m told too that Glukhovskii’s Metro novels have been turned into terrific ‘first person shooter’ video games, whatever that means.
But they are not the subject of this blog either.
That is a lot of things that the Russian in Fiction blog is not about — although all that stuff sits in the background and occasionally breaks through in passing reference or pretentious analogy.
What then is the Russia in Fiction blog about?
It is about how Russia has been portrayed in English-language fiction. Fiction, not literature. It consists for the most part of reviews of books set in Russia, or about Russia. These reviews ask two questions — what is the book like? And, how does it portray Russia in its fiction?
There are a lot of thrillers, chiefly spy thrillers, reviewed here. There is plenty of relatively light fiction, much of it quite obscure. Occasionally the blog will review something a little more literary. The books reviewed are in English. Their publication dates are spread across several decades, as indeed are their temporal settings. Have a look at the blog’s indexes to get a flavour of the coverage.
The initial aim of the Russian in Fiction blog is to review a hundred books and then stop. Many of these have been read, and the reviews written, some time in the last decade or so. This means that the blog can be updated regularly and often.
It is written to reflect the pleasure had in reading fiction related to Russia over many years, and to track the changing ways in which English-language authors depict Russia. Enjoy!