Putin’s Dark Imperium

I’ve had a passion for Russian literature since I was a teenager. Its grand themes of murder and redemption were always going to hold more appeal to a troubled adolescent than the airs and graces of yet another Austen novel – I pray the British people tire of her soon! – and after reading too […]

Nikita Mikhalkov’s Burnt by the Sun

Slovo, Vol. 9, No.1, 1996 Mikhalkov’s tale of life in the Russian countryside in the mid-1930s is an apparently idyllic one. A man and a woman deeply in love, a child they adore, and a family they cherish. The characters sing and dance in a beautiful and harmonious setting. But the destructive glare of Stalin […]

The Distinguished Assassin, Second Extract

29th December ‘52 At Kirovskaya, Natasha stands on the escalator as it descends into the bowels of Moscow. She recalls how just over a week ago, on 21st December, she and a few other work colleagues had to celebrate Comrade Stalin’s birthday, there something obscene about this. For though the majority of people know that […]

The Distinguished Assassin, First Extract

1st April ‘49 First, they frisk him down, then they start to go through his apartment, this shoddy home of Aleksei Nikolayevich Klebnikov, with its cracked plaster, which criss-crosses the walls; its peeling wallpaper, which droops from the ceiling; its old pipes, which cough and splutter; its wood furniture, which barely holds together; its paintings, […]

Zembla – It’s Me, Eddie, by Eduard Limonov

Zembla, No. 9, Winter 2005 The obscure book I’d like to tell you about is Eduard Limonov’s autobiographical work, It’s me, Eddie (or, in Russian, Eto ia – Edichka). Limonov was the enfant terrible of Russian letters in the late ’70s and ’80s, an identity he openly welcomed. His purposeful, vigorous and flamboyant assault both on Mother […]