July 26, 2018

Russians in the Dark, One Way or Another


Russians in the Dark, One Way or Another
Back in my day… we got more money!

1. Out with the new and in with the old is becoming a phrase a whole swath of Russians are supporting. The Russian government recently announced that it will raise the age at which Russians can receive their pension, and the State Duma approved the bill on Thursday. Over the next 15 years, the age at which men qualify for their pension will rise from 60 to 65, and for women it will rise from 55 to 63. This sparked protests, both when the bill was announced, and when it was passed. To sum things up (by mixing animal products): these protesters are no spring chickens, but they want to keep bringing home the bacon.

2. Was it a sign from God? Or a sign from the devil? These would have been reasonable questions to ask in the far northeast of Russia this week, when the sun disappeared into a deep, physical darkness for three hours. The devil was probably the better bet, as one of the more reasonable explanations is that the darkness was caused by smoke and ash from wildfires in Siberia (which have brought smoke all the way to New England!). However, officials have not yet been able to identify the cause of the event, and, of course, alternate theories abound: UFOs, military tests, and so forth. TWERF’s not one to spread conspiracies, but we don’t think it would be a bad idea to invest in some anti-devilry protective measures right about now.

Dark day

The Siberian Times

3. Russians rose early to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Romanovs’ execution. And it came just one day after investigators finally confirmed their DNA testing of the Romanov remains. Early meant 2:45 am (for those dedicated to begin at the same minute of the Romanov execution), at which time a 22-kilometer pilgrimage began. 100,000 pilgrims took part, indicating the continuing pull of the Romanov story and the growing popularity of Tsar Nicholas II.

In Odder News:

New old bones

Alexei Akimov

  • She was just big-boned! Scientists found massive elephant-like bones that are half a million years old

  • If you want the bigliest burgers in Russia, check out the Krasnoyarsk restaurant Trump Burger

  • Last week we highlighted Russian adults reflecting on the World Cup, but this time, it’s the kids’ turn (and it’s pretty darn cute)

Quote of the Week:

“So many people from so many different countries came here and spoke so many different languages. And I just think that was so nice.”

—  Igor Chudaikin reflects on the 2016 World Cup

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Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
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.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
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.
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.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.

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