10 Wonderful Russian Novels You Probably Haven’t Read

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the 2014 Winter Olympics start tomorrow in Sochi, Putin’s favorite vacation spot. So why not commemorate the event by doing something wholly un-sports-related and not the least bit outdoorsy, and pick up a Russian novel? If you somehow managed to get to the Olympics, you can commune with the locals — if not, you can get yourself in the Russian mood just in time to watch the ice skaters. Now, it’s a good bet that you already have a few Russian novels under your belt. After all, they have a reputation for being philosophical, multi-character tomes, the kind of things you want to hold a parade for yourself after finishing, and an entire squadron of them have been elevated to the kind of classics every American teenager is asked to read at some point or another. But there’s a lot more to Russian literature than Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (and Gogol and Bulgakov and Turgenev). After the jump, a selection of ten (of many) wonderful Russian novels that you probably haven’t read, but definitely should.


Day of the Oprichnik, Vladimir Sorokin

Sorokin is a very famous writer in Russia (he was awarded the People’s Booker Prize and the Andrei Bely Prize for outstanding contributions to Russian literature), but sorely under-appreciated here. Sorokin has been referred to as “the Tarantino of Russian literature” — if, that is, Tarantino set his stories in 2028 Moscow, where the tech has progressed but the tsars are back. Darkly funny, wickedly satirical, and featuring a KGB orgy scene. What else do you need to know?