Maya Vinokour

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Articles by Maya Vinokour

Summer Reading Series: Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “Sentimental Tales,” Part V

Before long Apollo Semyonovich Perepenchuk sank deep into poverty.

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Summer Reading Series: Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “Sentimental Tales,” Part IV

The author pledges to his dear readers that when he recalls certain sentimental scenes—say, the heroine crying over a portrait, or the same heroine mending Apollo Perepenchuk’s torn tunic, or, finally, Aunt Adelaide Perepenchuk announcing the sale of Apollo Semyonovich’s wardrobe—he does so with extraordinary sorrow and a painful sense of anxiety.

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Summer Reading Series: Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “Sentimental Tales,” Part III

“Why does man exist? Is there a purpose to man’s life—and if there isn’t, then is life itself not, generally speaking, in part senseless?” Of course, some assistant or full professor on the state’s gravy train would reply, with unpleasant ease, that man exists in order to further culture and the happiness of the universe. But that’s vague and unclear, and, for the common man, even disgusting.

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Summer Reading Series: Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “Sentimental Tales,” Part II

“In view of past misunderstandings, the writer notifies his critic that the person who narrates these tales, is, so to speak, an imaginary person.”

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Summer Reading Series: Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “Sentimental Tales,” Part I

“This book—this collection of sentimental tales—was written at the very height of NEP and revolution. And so the reader is, of course, entitled to demand certain things of its author: real revolutionary content, grand subject matter, tasks of planetary significance, and heroic pathos—in a word, a full, lofty ideology.”

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“Aspic” by Tatyana Tolstaya

Darkness comes early. There is a damp frost; you can see spiky halos around the streetlamps. You have to breathe through your mittens. Your forehead aches from the cold, and your cheeks are numb. But, wouldn’t you know it, you still have to boil and chill the aspic. It’s a yearly sacrifice, though we don’t know to whom or for what.

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Call for Submissions

We welcome your short pitches and/or completed drafts of 500-1200 words on any topic relating to Russian, East European, and Eurasian politics and culture. Please see our submission guidelines for more details!

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An excerpt from Alexandra Petrova’s “Appendix” (2016)

I felt even worse about my appendix. Over and over, they’d told me: “Don’t swallow fruit pits, and make sure to shell sunflower seeds before sticking them in your mouth, otherwise your appendix’ll get inflamed.”

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Linor Goralik: Excerpts from “Biblical Zoo”

The rabbit conveys to you that you can’t even imagine how and what he pees and poops—but soon you will.

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Linor Goralik: “She Said, He Said”

Like, here, I had this parrot, and you know, they live a long time. Well, he died, like, he was sitting on my shoulder and all of a sudden I thought he’d flown off, but then I felt his claws on my back—he’d fallen backwards. Well, I even, you know, I even cried. He lived a long time. So I couldn’t throw him out, I put him in a plastic box and buried him at my dacha.

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On Cumulative Ideology

This past June — a moment since blotted out by geopolitical horrors large and small — Vladimir Putin sat down with NBC’s Megyn Kelly for an interview subsequently lambasted as boring, “stubbornly uninformative theater.” It’s true that neither party said anything unexpected, instead treating viewers to another episode of “Dogged Journalist Confronts Icy, Obfuscating Politician.” Yet the conversation’s very lack of narrative drive offers insight into the heart of Putin’s messaging strategy — and into the fundamentally cumulative nature of contemporary political ideology.

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Hacking, Heckling, and Conspiracy: Interview with Julia Ioffe

What you need is something we don’t have yet in the case of the election, and might never have, which is somebody from the inside saying, “Here’s how we did it.” And once they do, it’s going to be surprising. It won’t be the way that we predicted. Because truth is stranger than fiction.

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Wheel of Misfortune: Game Shows and Show Trials after Crimea

What does a Russian game show have to do with a Ukrainian prisoner?

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