Following through on something I mentioned a while ago, I’ve decided to sign up for the Russian Reading Challenge 2008. The post title comes from the fact I view reading as always a gift to myself and the challenge requires me to resolve to get certain books read. Besides, it fits in with the foreign fiction fixation I’ve developed.
The challenge only requires four books over the course of 2008 by authors who wrote (write) in Russian or authors who wrote (write) about Russia and Russians. Only four books are required because Russian novels tend to be quite long (think War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, etc.) and the challenge recognizes we have other things to do. Still, I may read more than four as I’ve got a couple shorter novels on the list of candidates and may end up counting two short novels as one.
The list, which is subject to change on varying whims, also seeks to go from classic to modern works. The candidates, in no particular order, are:
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (I’ve read this before but The Whisperers by Orlando Figes prompts me to read it again.)
- Invitation to a Beheading, Vladimir Nabokov
- Ice, Vladimir Sorokin
- One Soldier’s War, Arkady Babchenko
- The Slynx, Tatyana Tolstaya
- The Story of a Nobody, Anton Chekhov
- Soul: And Other Stories, Andrey Platonov
This will likely serve as my anchor post and I’ll put the authors of the ones I’ve completed in bold. I may also crosspost a bit over at the Russian Reading Challenge blog.
YEAR-END UPDATE: As I indicated later in 2008, the Russian reading turned into a binge, thanks in part to the challenge. Here’s the other books I read in 2008 that would qualify for the challenge:
- War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
- The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
- Catherine the Great: Love, Sex, and Power, Virginia Rounding
- The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia, Tim Tzouliadis
- Leningrad: State of Siege, Michael Jones
- Young Stalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore
- The Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean
- Child 44, Tom Rob Smith
- The Archivist’s Story, Travis Holland
Okay, so maybe I did go a little Type A on the Russian thing.
Some things lead beyond words. Art inflames even a frozen, darkened soul to a high spiritual experience. Through art we are sometimes visited – dimly, briefly – by revelations such as cannot be produced by rational thinking.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1970 Nobel Lecture