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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

BOOKWORM: A Romp Through Moscow's Bestsellers




It's August again, time to check out the Moscow bestseller lists. This opens the new book season in style, and sets the stage for the international book fair, which will be held at the All-Russian Exhibition Center, formerly known as VDNKh, in early September,


To avoid confusion I have divided the fiction category into 10 separate entries:


-Russian classics: The most popular authors this year, according to number of copies printed, are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Bulgakov and Boris Pasternak.


-Foreign classics: French essayist Michel Montaigne, German novelist Stephen Zweig and Jane Austin top the list.


-Poetry: Russians triumph. The leaders are Alexander Pushkin (whose 200th birthday will be celebrated next June), Anna Akhmatova (Volume I of her Collected Works was published a few weeks ago) and Iosif Brodsky.


-Modern Russian literature: Nobody stands out, except maybe for Sergei Dovlatov, who died eight years ago. People are just not reading modern literature. But two names, Viktor Yerofeyev and emigre author Vasily Aksyonov are probably the most prominent.


-Modern Western literature: Nobody seemed to notice the Russian translation of James Redfield's "The Celestine Prophecy," but Umberto Eco's books are very fashionable, thanks to the author's recent visit to Russia.


-Russian thrillers: This is where the readers are.


Alexandra Marinina has not published anything new for nearly a year -- instead she moved to a new apartment, causing a mass media event. Her latest hit "I Died Yesterday" is still a leader in the sales charts. She now faces stiff competition, though, from Polina Dashkova, Tatyana Polyakova and Anna Malysheva.


Viktor Dotsenko's serial novels about "Besheny" (Mad Dog) are going out of fashion, but he is still popular in provincial towns. Danil Koretsky and Nikolai Leonov, both among the old Soviet guard of authors of police procedurals, are still the best in the market.


-Crime novels by foreign authors: The most noticeable event here is the 44-volume "Complete Works" by Earl Stanley Gardner and the second enlarged edition of the "Complete Works" of James Hadley Chase in 34 volumes. It makes a great present, and is a bargain at $2 per 500-page hardcover.


-Fantasy: Vasily Golovachyov is No. 1.


-Science Fiction: American author Harry Harrison leads the pack.


-Romance: This genre survives mostly in poor translations of English-language originals. The best of the lot comes from Raduga publishers, the Russian supplier of Harlequin. Russian authors are not very popular in this field, except for, perhaps, Yelena Arsenyeva. Their slogan seems to be "Make money, not love!"