Vladimir Sharov: Literature That Shines a Light on Dark History

Vladimir Sharov was a Russian writer who was deeply interested in the legacy of Russia’s Communist history. His nine novels focus on various aspects of this history: the communist schisms, Bolshevism, Stalin’s Terror, and the USSR’s collapse, and often mixes or juxtaposes ideas from Communism and religion. Russia’s Soviet history was deeply personal to Sharov, […]

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Victor Pelevin: Postmodernism for a Post-Soviet Society

Victor Pelevin, the cult author of such postmodernist classics as Oman Ra and Generation P, does not appear often in public and very rarely gives interviews. When he does, they are usually done over the internet. Pelevin’s published works, fortunately, speak for themselves. His novels are often multi-layered texts fusing elements of pop culture with […]

Sergei Lukyanenko: A Psychologist in Russian Science Fiction

In an interview with The New York Review of Science Fiction, Sergei Lukyanenko was asked why he started writing literature, to which he responded: “I couldn’t manage to find the sort of book I wanted to read. So I said to myself, why not simply write the kind of book I want to read? Then […]

Dmitry Bykov: History and Irony in the Spirit of Protest

In an interview in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Dmitry Bykov was asked what he thinks the role of the writer is in today’s society, to which Bykov responded: “As Strugatsky said, ‘To see everything, to hear everything, to understand everything.’” In his career, Bykov has certainly taken this quote to heart. He is […]

Olga Bergholz: “The Voice of the Blockade”

During the Siege of Leningrad in 1941, Olga Bergholz became a voice for the citizens trapped within the city. Reading her powerful poetry and flowing speeches over the radio waves and through loudspeakers, she captured with honesty the brutal reality of the Siege – including life, death, starvation, and the horrors of war. Not only […]

Tatyana Tolstaya: From Sightlessness to the World of Fiction

Before the invention of laser eye surgery to correct vision impairments, Tatyana Tolstaya was faced with a tough decision: suffer through poor vision, or undergo a long surgery involving medical razors. She chose the latter. Through a long convalescence, her eyes covered and unseeing as they healed, she was surprised to discover an “aetherial world […]

Boris Akunin: Nom de Plume, Nom de Guerre

In an interview with the Financial Times, Grigory Chkhartishvili was asked how his Russian upbringing stimulated his creativity, to which he responded: “I have the impression that if you were born in a calm country you could live until 90 without discovering who you really are because life does not test you so harshly. In […]

Dmitry Glukhovsky: Viral Literature

In an interview with the French art blog Adria’s News, Dmitry Glukhovsky was asked why he continued to post his literature online, to which he bluntly replied: “I want my books to spread like a virus.” With over five million free downloads of his novels, in 37 different languages, as well as in print, not […]

Three Great Musicians of the USSR

The twentieth century was a dynamic period in the history of Russia. In that century, Russia saw the fall of the 300-year Romanov dynasty, the rise and fall of the 70-year reign of the Soviet Union, and the turbulent formation of the Russian Federation. Russia saw revolution, civil war, two war worlds, purges under Joseph […]

Saira Keltaeva: Exploring Uzbek and Feminine Identity

Many describe Saira Keltaeva as one of the most unique phenomena emerging from the modern Uzbek art scene in recent decades. Born on May 16th, 1961,  in the village of Kumyshkan, located in the Tashkent region of modern day Uzbekistan, her oil paintings master the use of vibrant color and ethnographic decoration to create portraits […]

Zinaida Serebriakova: A Painter of the People and Country

“Happiness on canvas” is a phrase that well describes the early works of Zinaida Serebriakova. Best known for her vibrant, joyful style, it’s only natural that the her largest exhibit of the last 30 years, timed at the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death and the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, coincided with spring […]

Lysenko, Savitsky, and Preserving the Soviet Avant-Garde

Forty years ago, near the dusty shores of the retreating Aral Sea, Communist Party officials visited the Museum of Igor Savitsky. Savitsky, affectionately called “Junkman” by his friends and associates, was an artist. Under the nose of State officials (and sometimes with their funds), he amassed a collection of over eighty thousand banned Russian avant-garde […]

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