A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Category: 1960s published

The Listener by Anne Telscombe (1968)

For the first —and no doubt only— time, Russia in Fiction is reviewing a book that does not mention Russia.

And its set-up cannot fail but bring to mind the 2006 Oscar-winning German movie Das Leben des Anderen (The Lives of Others).

In the basement of a block of flats in the capital of ‘an anonymous Iron Curtain country’ called Commitania, sits a man, headphones on, tape reels whirring, listening in on conversations throughout the apartment block.

And how do we know it is about Moscow in the 1960s? Regular readers of this blog might already have picked up the clues.

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The Russian Interpreter by Michael Frayn (1966)

Michael Frayn — man of letters, leading British playwright, acclaimed novelist; also a renowned translator of Chekhov and, less well known, of ‘the Soviet Chekhov’ Yurii Trifonov.

Published in 1966, The Russian Interpreter came at the outset of Frayn’s literary career. His second novel, it appeared in the year that his first novel, The Tin Men, won the Somerset Maugham Award. Unusually for a writer from the West in that era, Frayn was able to draw on significant experience of living in the Soviet Union.

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