Nothing is true and everything is possible - adventures in modern russia
Takes you on a journey into the glittering, surreal heart of 21st century Russia: into the lives of Hells Angels convinced they are messiahs, professional killers with the souls of artists, bohemian theatre directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, supermodel sects, post-modern dictators and oligarch revolutionaries. This is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, where life is seen as a whirling, glamorous masquerade where identities can be switched and all values are changeable. It is home to a new form of authoritarianism, far subtler than 20th century strains, and which is rapidly expanding to challenge the global order. An extraordinary book - one which is as powerful and entertaining as it is troubling - Nothing is True and Everything is Possible offers a wild ride into this political and ethical vacuum.
Among The Russians
Among the Russians is a marvellous account of a solitary journey by car from St. Petersburg and the Baltic States south to Georgia and Armenia. A gifted writer and intrepid traveller, Thubron grapples with the complexities of Russian identity and relays his extraordinary journey in characteristically lyrical style. This is an enthralling and revealing account of the habits and idiosyncrasies of a fascinating nation along with a sharp and insightful social commentary of Russian life.
Internationally admired for her reporting, especially on the Chechen wars, award-winning journalist Anna Politkovskaya has turned her steely gaze on the man who, until very recently, was a darling of the Western media.
A former KGB spy, Vladimir Putin was named President of Russia in 2000. From the moment he entered the public arena he marketed himself as an open, enlightened leader eager to engage with the West. Unlike many European and American journalists and politicians, Politkovskaya never trusted Putin's press image. From her privileged vantage point at the heart of Russian current affairs, she set about to dismantle both Putin the man and Putin the brand name, arguing that he is a power-hungry product of his own history and so unable to prevent himself from stifling civil liberties at every turn. This is not, Polikovskaya argues, the kind of leader most contemporary Russians want.
To prove her theory, she tells the story of Putin's iron grip on Russian life from the point of view of individual citizens whose situations have been shaped by his unique brand of tyranny. Mafia dealings, scandals in the provinces, military and judiciary corruption, the decline of the intelligentsia, the tragic mishandling of the Moscow theatre siege - all are subject to Polikovskaya's pitiless but invariably humane scrutiny. This intimate portrait of nascent civil institutions being subverted under the unquestioning eyes of the West could not be more timely.
The Man Without a Face
Handpicked in 1999 by the 'Family' surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin, with very little governmental or administrative experience beyond having served as deputy mayor of St Petersburg, seemed like the perfect choice in the eyes of an oligarchy bent on moulding the president's successor to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had scrapped his way through post-war Leningrad schoolyards, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as with ruthless efficiency Putin dismantled the country's media, wrested control and wealth from the country's burgeoning business class, and decimated the fragile mechanisms of democracy. Within a few brief years, virtually every obstacle to his unbridled control was removed and every opposing voice silenced, with political rivals and critics driven into exile or to the grave. As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped.
Her horrifying and spellbinding account of how this 'faceless' man manoeuvred his way into absolute - and absolutely corrupt - power will stand as a classic of narrative non-fiction.
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The Time Of Women
Life is not easy in the Soviet Union at mid-20th century, especially for a factory worker who becomes an unwed mother. But Antonina is lucky to get a room in a communal apartment that she and her little girl share with three old women. Glikeria is the daughter of former serfs. Ariadna comes from a wealthy family and speaks French. Yevdokia is illiterate and bitter. All have lost their families, all are deeply traditional, and all become grannies to little Suzanna. Only they secretly name her Sofia. And just as secretly they impart to her the history of her country as they experienced it: the Revolution, the early days of the Soviet Union, the blockade and starvation of World War II. The little girl responds by drawing beautiful pictures, but she is mute. If the authorities find out she will be taken from her home and sent to an institution. When Antonina falls desperately ill, the grannies are faced with the reality of losing the little girl they love unless a stepfather can be found before it is too late. And for that, they need a miracle.
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There once lived a girl who seduced her sister's husband, and he hanged himself: love stories
In these dark, dreamlike love stories with a twist, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya tells of strange encounters in claustrophobic communal apartments, ill-fated holiday romances, office trysts, schoolgirl crushes, tentative courtships, rampant infidelity, tender devotion and terrifying madness. By turns sly and sweet, earthy and sublime, these fables of flawed love blend black humour and macabre spectacle with transformative moments of grace.