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Our book group focuses on standout works of contemporary Russian authors (from the last 30 years or so), and is still welcoming new members. The group reads one book at a time, and meets every 4-6 weeks for discussion. To join or ask questions, please contact Mila Subbotina at lsubbotina@museumofrussianicons.org or (978) 598-5000 x115.

There is no charge for this gathering. Museum admission is not required unless you plan to visit the galleries before or after the meeting – which we encourage you to do! Please check in at the admission desk when you arrive

The Loss by Vladimir Makanin, translated by Byron Lindsey

The novella and two short stories that make up this volume were written at three different periods in Makanin’s life, yet they are united by their narrative and stylistic invention, their range of human emotion, and the profound humanity of their prose. Though banished and suppressed in the Brezhnev era, Makanin is now recognized as one of Russia’s leading writers.

In the novella The Loss, a drunkard and dreamer obsessed with the idea of building a tunnel under the Ural River disappears in a ditch while working and is made a saint by the people of his village. In the short story “The Prisoner of the Caucasus,” two Russian soldiers take a Chechen prisoner during the war, and as events unfold, Makanin reveals not only the casual brutality of the war but also the secret truths of the character’s lives. “Klyucharyov and Alimushkin” tells the story of what happens when one man becomes remarkably lucky while the other loses all his luck.

Largely unknown and underappreciated in the west, Vladimir Makanin’s work spans and interprets the experience of several generations, from the Brezhnev era to the present, while evoking writers of the past and of the present. Though banished and suppressed in the Brezhnev era, Makanin is now recognized as one of Russia’s leading writers.

[photo: Rodrigo Fernandez, Russian writer Vladimir Makanin in Bilbao, during the IV Literaty Festival Gutun ZuriaCC BY-SA 3.0 ]

Read summaries of past book selections and discussions here.