June 13, 2019

Diving and Driving into Summer Holidays


Diving and Driving into Summer Holidays
Best low-budget suspense thriller of the year. Lilu Dallas

Throwback Thursday

Mikhail Alexandrovich, last tsar of Russia
Mikhail Alexandrovich, last tsar of Russia. / Wikimedia Commons

One hundred and one years ago, the real last tsar of Russia — not Nicholas II — was assassinated by the Bolsheviks. He had only been tsar for one day and never wanted the job. Learn more about Mikhail Alexandrovich, last Emperor of All the Russias, on Russian Life {digital subscription required}.

A Holiday for Patriots, A Game for Anti-Patriots

1. An odd Russia Day. On Tuesday, Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov, who was arrested last week on trumped-up charges, was freed after public backlash. The next day was Russia Day, and things proceeded weirdly normally. Cities all around Russia put on historical exhibits, parades, outdoor concerts, and festivals celebrating indigenous traditions. In St. Petersburg, 500 military brass band players got together to put on the world’s largest ever performance of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” The only sign of the previous week’s unrest was the arrest of over 500 protestors in Moscow. On the one hand, you want to say “С Днем России”…but on the other hand, you really can’t.

World's largest performance of "Flight of the Bumblebee"
A giant brass band honors a tiny bee. / Elena Kalinina

2. Driving under the sea. On Sakhalin Island, a truck driver needed to get across a strip of beach, but he missed the low tide. So what did he do? Simple: he drove into the sea (the action starts 30 seconds in). At various times it looked like the truck was going to get drawn in, but slowly but surely, the driver navigated his way out. Once he drove onshore, he opened the door to let the water out, wiped the inside of the windshield, and calmly drove away. So the next time you feel all at sea, take a cue from this guy and just ride the wave.

3. Fifty shades of Stalin? This October sees the debut of a video game self-explanatorily entitled “Sex with Stalin.” If that sounds outrageous, check out some of the reactions: One Communist Party official demanded a police investigation, but stopped short of calling for a ban, because “If we reacted to the breath of every idiot…” But maybe there’s a deeper meaning behind this. One researcher on Soviet culture sees the game as “evidence of how post-Soviet masculinity fantasizes about the overthrow of the symbolic father while still being inside the original phallic structure.” We think the developers are just trolling… but we are glad someone is trying to sort through the fray.

Screencap from forthcoming "Sex with Stalin" game
Our reaction exactly. / Steam

Blog Spotlight

Scoot on over and read Katrina Keegan’s story on scooters in Russia.

In Odder News

Bear strolling into Kamchatka airport
He doesn’t need security because he is the security. / Kamchatka Info
  • Welcome to Kamchatka Bearport! A bear strolled through a security gate onto the tarmac of a Kamchatka airport. (Pun credits to the Siberian Times.)
  • Ahead of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, workers painted the grass along a highway green. Now the grass will always be greener on the other side.
  • How many words does Russian have for drunkenness? A Soviet-born sports writer reveals all in this epic thread of 25 tweets.

Quote of the Week

“Yay, it’s summer!”

— A Norilsk resident running out into the snow in short sleeves and shorts

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

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Some of Our Books

At the Circus (bilingual)

At the Circus (bilingual)

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Bilingual series of short, lesser known, but highly significant works that show the traditional view of Dostoyevsky as a dour, intense, philosophical writer to be unnecessarily one-sided. 
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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