A book blog about Russia in English-language fiction

Tag: Vladimir Sorokin

The Long Song of Tchaikovsky Street: a Russian adventure by Pieter Waterdrinker (2022)

Translated from Dutch by Paul Evans

The Long Song of Tchaikovsky Street is a semi-autobiographical novel by Dutch author, and long-term Russia resident, Pieter Waterdrinker.

Waterdrinker’s take on Russian history —from the revolution of 1917 to its 100th anniversary— puts Russia in Fiction in mind of a knowledgeable boxer, confident in the Russia-writing ring. His experience gives him an assured air; he side-steps the lightweight clichés and name-checking typical of journeymen writers, and slams home his heavy take on Russia’s past, present, and future.

And, particularly from the view-point of 2022, it is an ominously heavy take on what lies at the end of this century-long dance of history.

The dance goes on —yes, the dance always goes on. Maybe this was another false rhyme of history, and we were on the cusp of a new biblical deluge of blood.

The Long Song of Tchaikovsky Street, p. 364
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Tsar by Ted Bell (2008)

Can we get the excuses out of the way first? Russia in Fiction reviews all sorts of stuff. Basically, if it is fiction that is set in, or at least features, Russia, then we might review it. Reviewing a book is not recommending a book. The idea is get a sense of how Russia is portrayed in the popular imagination.

But even so, Russia in Fiction did a lot of umming and aahing before reviewing Ted Bell’s Tsar.

You know those heavy metal bands that are so over the top that you wonder whether they are being deliberately ironic, taking the mickey out of the genre itself? Think the movie This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and the amplifiers that go up to eleven because full-volume ten is not loud enough. That’s what Ted Bell’s Tsar reminds me of.  It has all the usual elements of a Russia-related thriller, but ramps them up to beyond believable.

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