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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Backdoor Publishing

Last week I wrote about the way in which Soviet authors and editors circumvented censorship restrictions by publishing in the provinces. Another way was to send one's manuscript abroad for publication by an emigr? publisher, although this held great dangers for the author, and the difficulties of smuggling in copies of the finished book were formidable.

A third possibility was to try to get the book published by Russian publishers in other Soviet republics.

During the 1970s and '80s Andrei Bitov was published exclusively in Georgia. Yury Dombrovsky's novels appeared only in Kazakhstan in his lifetime and Michael Veller was published in Estonia, where even today, in spite of nationalist sentiment, a large number of Russian books are still published.

In intensely Russified Belarus the majority of the population consider Russian their first language, and two-thirds of books published are in Russian. In Ukraine every fourth inhabitant is Russian, and every second book is published in Russian.

And on last month's Ukrainian bestseller list only three out of the top 10 titles were issued by Ukrainian publishers: a book on Ukrainian history by leading local historian Valery Shevchuk; a controversial monograph on events in the republic during the civil war by Yaroslav Shtendera, and a reference book on paleontology, compiled by several Ukrainian professors. Pride of place on the Ukrainian bestseller list, however, is given to a Russian edition of a Stephen King novel, followed by books which promise to reveal "The Secrets of Your Name" and which diet best suits your star-sign.


And finally, Viktor Yerofeyev's new novel, The Last Judgement, mentioned in last week's column, has arrived in Moscow and is being sold by street vendors for 30,000 rubles ($6). A cheaper way to get it is to stop by the small bookstore of the Molodaya Gvardiya publishing house at Novoslobodskaya Ulitsa 18, where it sells for 18,000 rubles.