Tag Archives: Russia

Central Asia Books

We frequently regret that the number of books in the world exceeds the time available for reading them. Even the count of volumes in English that we want to read is formidable, though significantly less. And, unlikely as it might seem considering their relative sparsity, we probably won’t even get around to reading all the good books in English on Central Asia. We recently discovered the four books below, each of which was, interestingly though perhaps irrelevantly, originally penned in a different language. Even though, for various reasons, we probably won’t read them anytime soon, we thought they might likewise have escaped the attention of others who share our interest in Central Asia and could profit from them. Continue reading

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The Great Game, by Peter Hopkirk

I must have slept through the unit on the 19th century in high school World History. Until I read Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, I was woefully ignorant of the events that took place in Central Asia during that era, despite having lived in Pakistan for two years after college. Continue reading

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Soul—Russian Writer on Central Asia

Rather than a novel about Central Asia, Soul seems, in reality, to be a mythic novel that happens to be set in Central Asia. Author Andrey Platonov (1899-1951) traveled to Turkmenistan in the 1930s; he was taken with the region and later set the action of this book there. Continue reading

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Russka

I was unfamiliar with Edward Rutherford until I stumbled across Russka earlier this year. Based on our reading of Russka and what I know if his other novels, he can be succinctly described as Britain’s James Michener. Russka opens with a “primitive” settlement and traces the descendents of this community down to the 20th century. In the process, Rutherford hits some of the high points (or call them low points, if you like) of Russian history. Rutherford appears to write from a markedly Anglophile point of view, particularly in his presentation of Russia’s “backwardness” and perhaps also in his choice of historical scenarios. I would be interested in hearing a Russian reader’s response to Russka. Continue reading

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The Winter Queen and The Turkish Gambit

My husband and I read The Turkish Gambit (by Boris Akunin, trans. Andrew Bromfield) either early last year or the year before–it’s a bit fuzzy in my memory. This is at least in part because I had difficulty following the plot, though it may have been unremarkable for other reasons, too. The translation style adopted by Bromfield, who has translated all the Akunin novels currently available in English, is quite smooth; it would be easy to read the books without realizing they are translated. Only a humorous reference to “American Roulette” in the beginning of The Winter Queen betrays the book’s Russian origins. Perhaps Bromfield’s aim was to present English-speaking readers with a good intrigue rather than a markedly Russian novel. This might be more appropriate with Akunin than with, say, The Master and Margarita, which Bromfield has also translated. (I have read the book, but not Akunin’s translation.) I would be interested in hearing from Russian readers of the original text of Akunin’s novels. Continue reading

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