Monday, September 29, 2008

The Literary Express, Pelevin, and Russian History

1. My favorite Russian news item for today is about a train, not financial markets or politics. The “Литературный экспресс” (“Literary Express”) train set off from Moscow for Vladivostok today carrying a bunch of writers. Forty writers will travel in groups of 10, covering four itineraries and holding over 200 meetings. Writers include Zakhar Prilepin, Aleksei Varlamov, Viktor Erofeev, Polina Dashkova, and Sergei Luk’ianenko of Night Watch fame.

The goal of “Literary Express” is, in my translation, “propaganda and promotion of contemporary domestic literature and popularization of reading in the Russian regions.”

2. Yesterday’s New York Times Book Review included “Demonic Muse,” Liesl Schillinger’s enthusiastic assessment The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, Andrew Bromfield’s translation of Victor Pelevin's Священная книга оборотня. Pelevin isn’t a favorite of mine but, as my father might say, those who like him speak highly of him.

3. I’m a little late posting about this article from The New Republic… Leon Aron’s “The Problematic Pages” describes the context of and some of the material in a new Russian teacher’s handbook called Новейшая история России, 1945-2006 (The Modern History of Russia, 1945-2006) by A.V. Filippov. I’d already read this Russian article about the book, which quotes passages that rationalize Stalin’s great terror. The fact that the book exists is not surprising, considering Vladimir Putin’s policies and statements about history. Even knowing that, these articles make for very bleak reading.

Pelevin's The Sacred Book of the Werewolf: A Novel on Amazon


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