In the midst of the political protests in Ukraine, venture to the land of Russia for a taste of science fiction, fantasy, and romance with a Slavic twist. Look for themes of deception, political corruption, and earnest, true love, along with an intense sense of nationality and pride.
The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.
The Night Watch is Russia’s answer to epic fantasy with a modern twist. Set in modern-day Moscow, but with a twist, Muscovites live in a society with an ancient race of powerful members, forever feuding between the Light and the Dark, while a fragile pact keeps peace between the sides. The incredible momentum of the plot, coupled with the epic plot line, and Lukyanenko’s frank writing style advances a story that stands alone as the contemporary example of Russian fantasy.
Recommended for: An afternoon read (prepare to be hooked)
Enjoy it with: A dark ale
For fans of: Epic fantasy, Tolkien
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Skip the movie adaptations and go straight to the novel. Applicable to our current social struggles, Anna Karenina details the repressed love and life of a noblewoman forced to choose between a subservience that allows her to hold a title, and her personal desires, which overwhelm her as she attempts to find a life that is not chosen for her, but chosen by her. Tolstoy’s reflections upon his own life, and of life in contemporary Russia, are clear throughout the novel, making it an insightful read not only into the mind of a character, but also one of the world’s greatest authors.
Recommended for: A bedside table, book club
Enjoy it with: Scones, biscuits, a daiquiri
For fans of: Romance novels, classic literature
Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
Set in the 1820’s, Eugene Onegin delves deep into a social circle of Russian life that would otherwise be unremembered. Pushkin’s poetic sense is transformed into his first prose based novel. The range of characters ensures that not only the three main masculine protagonists are remembered, but also the broad cast that goes far beyond the leading men and their ladies.
Recommended for: A late night read
Enjoy it with: champagne and wine spritzers, finger cakes
For fans of: gossip