A short story is an unlikely review subject, but “Person of Korea” has several things going for it: first, it’s by Paul Yoon and in its detached observational style is illustrative of the author’s other work. Second, it’s set among the Korean diaspora in the Russia Far East; although the Russian Far East has begun to feature in an increasing amount of fiction, the only other work with this particular combination that comes to mind is Jeff Talarigo’s The Ginseng Hunter. And third, it’s available online at The Atlantic.

Riding to join the army in Armenia, Russia’s greatest poet Alexander Sergeievich Pushkin met a ox-cart heading in the opposite direction, carrying a plain box made of planks. “What are you carrying?” the poet asked the carters. “Griboedov”, came the answer. That was Pushkin’s last encounter with his friend, namesake, fellow playwright, diplomat, and now terrorist victim, Alexander Sergeievich Griboedov. Yuri Tynyanov’s 1929 biographical novel describes the last year of the hero’s life and his death, offering a portrait of Russia’s Golden Age of literature as well as a veiled critique of Stalin’s Soviet Union.

Endearingly referred to as “Mother Volga” in Russian, it is the longest river in Europe, flowing from forests to the steppes and marshlands of the Caspian Sea. In The Volga, Janet M Hartley pens a vivid, human-centered story of the great river standing at a crossroad of peoples and cultures. She explores and contextualizes its significance to the history of Russia. 

 Japan’s Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm, Olga V Solovieva, Sho Konishi (Cambria Press, February 2021)
Japan’s Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm, Olga V Solovieva, Sho Konishi (Cambria Press, February 2021)

The Russian cultural presence in Japan after the Meiji Revolution was immense. Indeed, Japanese cultural negotiations with Russian intellectuals and Russian literature, art, theology and political thought, formed an important basis for modern Japanese transnational intellectual, cultural, literary, and artistic production.

The gold of the Scythians exploded into the world of museum goers when Leningrad’s Hermitage Museum sent these treasures touring to London and New York in 1975. An equally noteworthy exhibition, Masters of the Steppe, took place in 2017 at the British Museum. This copiously-illustrated volume enables readers to revisit that exhibition, and to ponder essays produced by 30 scholars from 12 countries. These essays appear, confusingly, in alphabetical order by author. It is best to start by reading the magistral concluding essay, and then return to the essays in the order they are discussed in the conclusion.

The Code of Civilization might at first seem to be another in the line of books which includes Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations that attempt an overarching view of world history with an aim to model the present and predict the future. This time, however, the author—Vyacheslav Nikonov—is Russian.