No really – who the heck is writing this crap?

Consider this page an extension of the “Author” section. I realized that aside from that page I hadn’t actually introduced myself proper – who I am, how I became interested in Russia and what I plan to do with this blog. Better late than never, eh?

Who am I?

I’m a real person writing under a pseudonym. I’m relatively young when compared to the other writers who populate the Russia-centric blogosphere. By day, I study at the keyed virus unit. By night (and sometimes by afternoon), I write this blog. English is my native language, though Russian is fast becoming my favorite one to use. My pastimes include reading, drawing/sequential art, hovering uneasily on the edge of photos, and of course, discussing Russian affairs.

Specifically, my interest lies in: post-Soviet Russian fiction, especially satire and magic realism; Russian domestic politics; criminal, youth, and street subculture; American rusology; the Brezhnev era; state-society relations; national identity, patriotism, and statebuilding; and Putin the influence of personality upon politics.

For what it’s worth, I am also a Russian-to-English literary translator (in training).

Why Russia?

tl;dr, basically, a few years ago I became interested in the language after hearing a song by Zemfira on Soundcloud. True story. One thing led to another and soon I was not only studying Russian but reading extensively on contemporary Russian culture and politics. The classic literature/Tsarist Russia/ “truly Russophilic” stage of development was noticeably absent. The Syrian crisis of 2013 and the following events opened my eyes to what seemed to be a decline in American expertise on (and understanding of) Russian affairs; a void which younger, more naive me was more than happy to try filling.

In a nutshell, my interest in Russia stems partly from practical application, partly from curiosity, and partly from genuine desire to understand modern Russia. The Russia Bug bit me, but it belonged to a slightly different species: one with a pleasant chirp, but also sharp teeth, and the eyes of Vladimir Putin.

Well, what am I going to do with it?

Years ago, I dreamed of becoming an analyst, doing research and making policy suggestions based upon a more nuanced, less antagonistic notion of Russia.

Hah, can you imagine?

While deep down some obscure part of me longs to be an analyst (something still realizable with hard enough fighting, perhaps), translation work is also in the cards. You can never have too many translators helping bring the wealth of information in Russian-language works to academia and interested laypeople. Maybe.

Why did I start blogging?

I was reviewing books on Goodreads long before I decided to launch this blog. And by “long before” I of course mean three years. (Remember, internet time.) Starting out, my reviews were of random books in random genres. At some point I realized I could fuse two of my interests together and devote an entire site to the result.

Also – a blog is currently the only platform I have on which to talk about Russia. What can I say – Russia-watching’s not a popular hobby in these parts. And when the topic of Russia is brought up, it tends to attract a narrow group of often narrow-minded commentators who go by the collective name of Democracy Promoters.

Let me be frank: I don’t expect Russia Reviewed to have any impact on academic/policy debate or win over the hearts and minds of hundreds with its message of “yeah, Russia’s not as bad as our current establishment claims it is.” However, I do personally benefit a great deal from having a forum through which I can better synthesize my own ideas about Russia and listen to others’ opinions. I’m not a Russia expert and find something interesting to ponder in every substantive comment.

Hope that clears a few things up.



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