Lisa Hayden Espenschade has provided a very useful resource at her blog Lizok’s Bookshelf: a list of a couple of dozen Russian-language sources of book reviews, including both individual bloggers and institutional sites. The second one on the list, В топку.ру (“Into the fire”), provides scathingly negative reviews of books that have often been critically praised, like Alexei Ivanov’s Золото бунта and Vladimir Sorokin’s День опричника; the first was favorably reviewed by the esteemed slawkenbergius, so I suspect the топку.ру reviewer of excessive bile, but I don’t really care, since the trashing is so enjoyable to read. (Apparently that site is exclusively for pans; the normal book discussions are at


  1. Thanks for linking to my post, Languagehat! I hope some of the links are helpful for you. I couldn’t agree more about В топку: it’s a lot of fun to read, even when someone dismantles a favorite.

  2. Having read the rant about День опричника, I have to ask: is it common for Russian amateur reviewers to throw the dictionary at the author? I’ve seen a few examples in Russian, but none on English-language sites where amateur reviews are posted. Is this a reflection of Russian linguistic hyper-vigilance, like класть/ложить?

  3. too funny and angry, that’s why i feel i can’t read that, contemporary Russian lit, written after the perestroika anyway
    whenever i start reading something from them i end up losing interest after a few pages, ili kak korobit
    just the critic himself it seems like greatly enjoys reading and ridiculing those books too
    i wonder what he really likes reading from nowadays Russians, i would read what he’d recommend

  4. The setting of my work couldn’t be further from Russia, but I had never thought before of the idea of Russian criticism of, say, Karamazov. That’s a mind-blower.

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