Continuing my country presentation – that is what every Atlas Corps fellow should do at the beginning of the fellowship – I have a couple of things to add.

As you remember, Russia is the biggest country in the World. There are roughly 150 millions of Russians – if we believe Wikipedia – live worldwide. The majority of these people share the same historical and cultural heritage, especially the heritage we have gotten from XX century.

Do you want to dig deeper into of topic of modern Russia? Here are several books – both fiction and non-fiction – I want to recommend. I think they sufficiently reflect our cultural identity and describe social and political turbulences.

Anyway, when you will meet a Russian next time, it may be an elegant way to start a conversation. We would love to hear an interlocutor had read something Russia-related, which was not news.


  • The Little Golden Calf (1931) and The Twelve Chairs (1928) is a famous satirical novel by Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov
  • Moscow-Petushki (1973), also published as Moscow to the End of the Line and Moscow Stations, is a pseudo-autobiographical postmodernist prose poem by Russian writer and satirist Venedikt Yerofeyev
  • Roadside Picnic (1979) by Strugatsky brothers. This world famous science fiction novel was refused publication in the Soviet Union for eight years due to government censorship (by the way, this is one of my favorite books)


  • Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: ordinary life in extraordinary time (1999). The book is a good example of everyday life sociology. It focuses on Soviet social and cultural history in the Stalin period
  • Chrystia Freeland, Sale of the Century: Russia’s Wild Ride from Communism to Capitalism (2000). The author – now Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada – was working as a journalist in 1990s in newly emerging Russia
  • Mikhail Zygar, All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin (2016). The author is the founding editor-in-chief of the only Russian independent news TV-channel Dozhd

P.S. The list is a result of my humble selection; these books are not classical novels from our school program. Fellow Russians, feel free to continue the list. I would appreciate your comments and recommendations.