Viv Groskop

Is this the end of travel writing?

Thirty years ago, in the days when friendships were sustained not by email but by air mail, a friend of mine was spending time in some exotic faraway place. He would send me beautiful, florid accounts of his travels and I would read out the most hilarious passages to the flatmates I was living with

The art of the short story: what we can learn from the Russians

This is such a superb idea that it’s a wonder a book like this has not cropped up before. Here we have a critically acclaimed, best-selling novelist, who also happens to be a highly sought-after creative writing teacher, setting out the curriculum of his over-subscribed ‘How to Write’ class in a way that is accessible

A far cry from Chekhov

It would be hard to have better travel-writer credentials than Sara Wheeler. Here the author of The Magnetic North and Terra Incognita, a specialist in Arctic and Antarctic adventure, turns her attentions to the land mass that sprawls across eight time zones, where any traveller is guaranteed to receive an ostentatiously frosty reception — initially,

Amused and confused

Tibor Fischer has a track record with humour. His first novel, the Booker shortlisted Under the Frog, takes its title from a Hungarian saying that the worst possible place to be is ‘under a frog’s arse down a coal mine’. And he also has form with being a bit meta: his third novel, The Collector

Beyond the pale

You can tell everything you need to know about what Victoria Lomasko thinks of her homeland by the titles of this book’s two sections: ‘Invisible’ and ‘Angry’. A graphic artist from Serpukhov, just south of Moscow, Lomasko spent eight years documenting people from all walks of life across Russia, producing drawing and commentary about the

An epic for our times

Trailing rave US reviews, fan letters from Yann Martel and Khaled Hosseini and a reputation as ‘Doctor Zhivago for the 21st century’, comes this outstanding historical saga from debut novelist Sana Krasikov. It’s a dazzling and addictive piece of work from an author born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia whose family emigrated to New

Brexit Britain needs a large dose of proper political satire

After Brexit, satire is well and truly dead. Now we have Boris Johnson answering questions at press conferences about how he’ll explain to Hillary’s face that he once said she looks like a nurse in a mental institution. We have an unelected prime minister who got the job largely because another woman baited her about not

Broken dreams

As Masha Gessen herself admits — and as friends and journalist colleagues repeatedly told her — it was a strange choice to write this book. But you only have to get a few pages in to realise that Gessen, the author of a bestselling analysis of Putin, is ideally placed to take on the story

Made in Chelski

It’s surprising there haven’t been more novels drawing on London’s fascination with Russian oligarchs. But how to write about them without it all seeming a bit Jackie Collins? Vesna Goldsworthy has hit on the perfect solution with her witty novel Gorsky. If you’re going to write about being nouveau riche, why not model your book

Transnistria: a breakaway republic of a breakaway republic

Transnistria is not an area well-served by travel literature or, really, literature of any kind. The insubstantial-seeming post-Soviet sandwich-filling between Moldova and Ukraine, it doesn’t have a bad reputation. It has no reputation. As Rory MacLean, the author of the ‘across-the-old-Iron-Curtain-in-a-Trabant’ bestseller Stalin’s Nose, explains: ‘Transnistria is a breakaway republic of a ba lot smaller