‘Dr.Kundera and Mr.Hrabal Part 1’, by Robin Ashenden

I was 17 years old when The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Czech novelist Milan Kundera’s novel about the lives, loves and interior philosophies of four different characters during the Prague Spring of 1968 and its aftermath  –  came out in English, and one wonders whether there is a more fatal work for such a fatal…

Robin Ashenden | 23/04/2015
akhmatova green

‘Akhmatova. Anrep. Berlin.’ at Pushkin House, reviewed by Jo Varney


At Pushkin House,  until 29th April 2015, is an installation by the acclaimed Russian artists Vitaly Pushnitsky and Olga Jurgenson.  Curated by Elena Zaytseva, Akhmatova. Anrep. Berlin. is an exhibition that explores Silver Age poetess Anna Akhmatova’s relationship with two fellow countrymen, the philosopher-historian Isaiah Berlin and the artist Boris Anrep. The archives of Pushkin…

Jo Varney | 14/02/2015

‘Sinfonia Bulgarica’ (Evtimova, 2014) reviewed by Ian Mole


After the first page I felt that I was going to love this book but I’m afraid it didn’t quite work out that way.  The setting is a small Bulgarian town in the modern day and it’s a hungry, desperate world for three of the main protagonists,  while in great contrast the other two live…

Ian Mole | 27/01/2015
ceausescu presidential sceptre (2)

‘The White King’: György Dragomán’s novel reviewed by Ian Mole

The eighteen stories of this 2007 book by György Dragomán, a Transylvanian Hungarian, can be enjoyed separately but also form a loose narrative set in the 1980s world of an unnamed country – undoubtedly Ceausescu’s Romania. Stretching over a period of about two years in the life of their narrator, 11-year-old Djata, the tales revolve…

Ian Mole | 09/10/2014
stalin falsified

Rethinking Stalin: Dr.Polly Jones at Pushkin House, by Valeriya Stepanuyk

The subject of the Stalinist past was a controversial topic even within the Soviet Union and now is perhaps even more so in Former Soviet States. Given this, it’s not surprising there were mixed feelings in anticipation of Rethinking the Stalinist Past in Soviet Union (1953-70) an event chaired on September 23rd at Pushkin House…

Valeriya Stepanuyk | 09/10/2014
Image by Antony Stanley

‘Not So Lucky’ – a short story from Romania, by Mike Ormsby

I remember this place, always will. I should have kept my mouth shut. Play with fire, right? But that was years ago. I can walk through Bucharest’s Gara de Nord feeling older and wiser, now. The big railway station looks so different today – modern, revamped. Shiny kiosks bulge with glossy magazines, rows of chocolate,…

Mike Ormsby | 08/10/2014
tibor fischer (2)

‘The Hungarian Tiger’: Tibor Fischer interviewed by Nick Barlay

Tibor Fischer has just written his ‘last will and testament’. Before anyone fears his impending demise or the legal implications for his literary estate, rest assured: he is still in rude health, and working on a new novel from his perch on Brixton Hill under the watchful eye of Sándor Márai photographed in his pre-war…

Nick Barlay | 13/08/2014