Bestselling books last week at Moscow's Biblio-Globus? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing, a cookbook for the lazy, plus self-help books on smoking cessation, talking to your child, career advice for women, and how rational people make stupid mistakes that can ruin their lives.
There was also a little space for Russian literary fiction... whatever that means:
Vladimir Voinovich recently published his third (and final, he says) novel about Private Ivan Chonkin. The Chonkin books are Soviet classics, satires about Soviet life and bureaucracy that are easier read than described. I also enjoyed Voinovich's Монументальная пропаганда (Monumental Propaganda), which picks up a tangent from the Chonkin books. Here's what I wrote about it for a literature workshop:
It's oddly frustrating for a writer to read Grishkovets: I think many of us probably think we could have written his books and stories. They feel very simple, in both style and content. But that simplicity -- and, even more important, an unabashed sincerity -- have made Grishkovets uniquely popular. He examines small things in life that almost any reader can relate to: waking up and feeling like you're sick, obsession with being in love, or finding a pre-warmed seat on public transportation. Russians enjoy Grishkovets's writing, music, and stage productions enough that I've seen him in American Express ads. (Member since when, you wonder? I don't remember.) I particularly like Grishkovets's spoken songs and think his short novel, Рубашка (The Shirt), would do well in translation. It is also a nice book for students of Russian because it is short and fairly easy to read.
Post Scriptum: Perennial Bestsellers. Sergei Luk'ianenko and Dar'ia Dontsova are also on the list. Luk'ianenko wrote Ночной дозор (Night Watch) and its sequels, which have been adapted into two blockbuster Russian films that fall somewhere into the science fiction and fantasy realms. They show the struggle between people representing light and dark, though Luk'ianenko says they are better described as altruists and egoists. I read the first half of the first book and thought it was just okay. It quickly felt repetitive (or perhaps predictable), though I rather liked the casual narrative voice.
In this posting:
Vladimir Voinovich Books on Amazon
Night Watch on Amazon