Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hello and Welcome!

Disclaimer/Disclosure Update (last updated February 9, 2020): The Russian literature field is small, with fewer than six degrees of separation. As a blogger, freelance writer, and freelance translator, I meet many people – agents, authors, other bloggers, booksellers, journalists, magazines, nonprofit organizations, publicists, publishers, readers, reviewers, translators, writers, etc. – online and in person. I discuss books, publishing, translation, and/or projects with them; those discussions may result in collegial collaborations and/or friendly interactions, as well as paid work related to Russian fiction. (Read Russia, for example, is one of my clients; I write for Read Russia.) This blog can and should be considered related to my paid work and I may consider some of the people I mention to be colleagues and/or friends. Some posts may mention individuals or entities with whom/which I (have) collaborate(d) in some way or discuss books related to them. Though I will always mention review copies received from publishers if I am posting a review-like post and prefer to mention other collaborations, I may not always mention or offer detail about my contact(s) with people/organizations mentioned in my posts: publishing is, after all, a competitive business and confidentiality is important. Two other important things that are probably pretty obvious: 1) Nobody pays me, with money, favors, or anything else, to write blog posts, and 2) My goal as a blogger is to provide honest, critical opinions about the books I read. My honest opinions are the basis of my relationships with all my readers, including publishing houses and agents whose books and writers I read and discuss. I may update this statement at any time, as needed, without notice. (If you’re wondering why I feel compelled to write this disclaimer/disclosure, please read this post on Boston Bibliophile, which contains a FAQ about FTC guidelines that apply to book bloggers.)

P.S. Some of my posts include Amazon.com affiliate links.


I started Lizok’s Bookshelf because people frequently ask me for book suggestions. Those who know me can guess that my easy first choices usually include Russian classics like War and Peace and Doctor Zhivago, two of my favorites.

But what happens after those? Contemporary Russian novels? Or forgotten classics of the 19th and 20th centuries? Maybe genres like Russian detective novels? I began leading literature workshops a few years ago because I hoped I could help Russian books, beyond the blockbusters, reach a few more readers.
Although I read Russian novels in Russian, most of the books I will write about here are available in translation. I hope that this blog will help inspire readers to take up Russian novels, be they classics or contemporary. Another reason I decided to start this blog is that – as I was preparing for an upcoming workshop on post-Soviet era novels – I found very little background information about contemporary Russian writers.
I will only write in-depth about books that I finish, though I may mention others that I didn’t like enough to complete. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean that you won’t. I’m a famously impatient reader, so if I don’t like a book but still finish it, something must be interesting!
My goal in writing about books is not to review or analyze them, it is to write about why they appealed to me. I don’t consider myself an expert in Russian literature, just a reader. I finished my MA in Russian literature but dropped out of grad school before receiving a PhD. I couldn’t picture myself as an academic.
I plan to write one or two detailed postings a week and will add links to news items and book reviews, too. I have plenty of ideas for topics but also look forward to your questions. I encourage you to contribute to discussion here, either by adding your own comments about books or asking questions that I or other readers might be able to answer. This is intended as a site for everyone, so I will monitor comments.
Thank you for visiting. I look forward to hearing from you!

Books in this posting:

War and Peace Doctor Zhivago


  1. Dear Liza! I like your posts and I would like to get in touch with you, I would like to find a good translator from Russian into English! You can check my name on Google and write me back if you are interested. Thank you, Elena Botchorichvili botelena@gmail.com

  2. This may not be up your alley since it was written in English (though deserving of a good translation into Russian) but my novel in verse, Haymarket Square could be considered post-Soviet lit. I have lived in the US for too long to attempt what I did with Haymarket in my native language. I would be a Russian writer the way Conrad would be Polish or Canetti would be Bulgarian but I would be keen on sending you a complimentary copy if you're interested. Thanks, John Kolchak. jk@johnkolchak.com http://www.haymarketsquarebook.com/

  3. Dear Lisa, this post is certainly a consolation!! Thank you. I'm really looking forward to seeing your review of Poliarinov's book.
    Olga Zilberbourg

    1. Olga, what a lovely surprise to find your comment, thank you! I'm also curious about what I write about Polyarinov's book)) I hope you're all doing okay! xo, L.