When I suffer from writer’s block or simply want to escape from the 24/7 drumbeat of divisive rhetoric punctuated by violence, I often travel to one of the public libraries. Here, hidden in dusty book jackets are stories too long to encapsulate in tweets, but filled with tales of the human condition. No one is a comic book hero or villain and yes, one discovers that Russians are people as well.
Russian female authors pull back the veil of confusion to reveal complex women that do not easily fit the caricature of spy or femme fatale. The country singer, Iris De Ment, understood this point and serenaded the works of famed Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova in her album, “Trackless Woods.”
Here are other random excerpts from books about Russian female authors that I read at the library:
- “One of Natalia Baranskaia’s books tells the story of how a society discards an older woman no longer considered useful in terms of labor.”
- “Maia Galina writes about an actress, her daughter, husband, and the effects of marital infidelity.”
- “Prose of Life” author, Benjamin Sutcliffe’s analysis of the Russian female authors of the 1960s are: “Baranskaia and Grekova echo Virginia Woolf in describing fragmentary lives that inevitably induce exhaustion.”
- Biases are also evident, as in Baranskaia’s interpretation of “the masculine behavior of career women destroying gender binarism in the (former) Soviet Union.”
- If another author is to be believed, Ludmilla Petrushevskaia’s manuscript detailing the minutiae constituting the life of a woman in the (former) Soviet woman languished on editorial shelves.
- Another author, writes movingly about a woman hurt after being shunned by her coworkers, but does not provide a reason for the censure.
- One author shows the full range of human complexity by having a character rail against capitalism as “the conversion of things into people and people into things” and then proceeding to show how these critics proceed to do exactly what they criticize other people of in their own lives.