A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: Great Britain

Russian Hide and Seek by Kingsley Amis (1980)

Russian Hide and Seek (1980) is set in the year 2035 and imagines an England that had been forcibly occupied by the Soviet Union since the mid-1980s. Amis’s fantastical future is of course shaped  by the world he knew in the late 1970s.

For all its title, Russian Hide and Seek is a novel about England far more than it is a novel about Russia.

Whereas Donald James —writing The Fall of the Russian Empire (1982) around the same time as Russian Hide and Seek came out— focused with notable accuracy on likely developments in Russia’s near-future, Amis has little to say about Russia and a little more to say obliquely about the declining state of the United Kingdom.

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Motherland by G.D. Abson (2017)

G. D. (Garry) Abson’s first book is a cracking crime novel, set in contemporary St Petersburg and shaped around the character of a maverick female detective, Natalya Ivanova.

In Abson’s portrayal of Russia, for ‘maverick’, read ‘not corrupt’. Ivanova’s efforts to solve crime —in this case the disappearance of a young woman— are hindered as much by obstructive, careerist, regime-loyal colleagues as they are by the normal stuff such as lack of evidence and the deceptive nature of the criminal class.

One strap-line we have seen used for Motherland goes like this.

‘Natalya Ivanova does for St Petersburg what Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko did for Soviet-era Moscow.’

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Moscow 5000 by David Grant (1979)

The Moscow Olympics of 1980 presented a setting for thriller writers that was too good to miss. Especially if they timed it right and got their book in the shops ahead of the Games.

Russia in Fiction has already reviewed one such book (John Salisbury’s 1980 novel Moscow Gold). David Grant beat Salisbury to the tape, with Moscow 5000 being published in 1979.

Well, we say David Grant. In reality, Moscow 5000’s author was renowned British thriller writer Craig Thomas (1942-2011), writing under a pseudonym. And the novel’s skilfully complex plot betrays that it is not written by a novice; with four strong and interlinked story lines coming to their conclusion in the running of the men’s 5000 metres final in the XXII Olympiad in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in 1980.

From the Russia-in-fiction angle, two of these plot strands are notable; particularly so the Ukrainian nationalist one.

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