Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy

gorskyGorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy. My review for Shiny New Books.

Gorsky is an enigmatic, much-gossiped-about billionaire who is rarely seen at his own famously gorgeous parties; there is a suggestion of some enormous unresolved romance in his life; his public character has something staged, unusually deliberate, theatrical about it—you could say that his personality is “an unbroken series of successful gestures”, if you wanted to quote from The Great Gatsby. And you probably do want to quote from The Great Gatsby; I did from the blurb onwards.

Read the full review at Shiny New Books


There was something so obvious in his slightly taciturn appearance that, almost from day one, I called him the ‘The Great Gorsky’…

The Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov (translated Bryan Karetnyk)

The Spectre of Alexander WolfThe Spectre of Alexander Wolf by Gaito Gazdanov (translated Bryan Karetnyk). My review for Nudge. When is someone you killed dead? Mystery, guilt, love, philosophy, and death in a very Russian thriller. Read the full review on Nudge


The opening is an almost conventional attention-grabbing shocker: ‘Of all my memories, of all my life’s innumerable sensations, the most onerous was that of the single murder I had committed.’ From then on it’s quite different. Not immediately, urgently, collar-shakingly different, but different from the opening, and different from other books.

The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov

gardener-wpcf_216x216The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov (translated by Amanda Love Darragh). ‘We live in an interesting country, these are interesting times … we can’t help being interesting ourselves’. A Russo-Ukrainian novel. My review for Nudge.


The first of Kurkov’s novels to be translated into English was Death and the Penguin, in 2001; the Russian-language original, Smert’postoronnego, had been published in Ukraine five years earlier. It was an oblique, unpredictable success. A hard-boiled portrait of post-Soviet Ukraine, with its gangsters and corrupt politicians and its moral and physical uncertainty, could easily have attracted some earnest critical interest, but this was different. It seemed plausible and even matter of fact, offering an insight into its time and place, but with this came a protagonist with a pet penguin and a job straight from a sinister version of GK Chesterton’s Club of Queer Trades, where eccentrically employed members must have invented the means by which they earn their living.

Read the full review on Nudge

Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America by Owen Matthews

glorious-misadventures-wpcf_183x216Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America by Owen Matthews. When the Wild West was also the Wild East. My Nudge review.


By 1812 the border of the Tsar’s dominions was on what is today called the Russian River, an hour’s drive north of San Francisco along California’s Highway 1. Russia also—briefly—had a colony on Hawaii. Rezanov spent much of his life passionately advocating the idea that America’s west coast could be a province of Russia, and the Pacific a Russian sea. This was no mad pipe dream but a very real possibility.

Read the full review on Nudge