No really – who the heck is writing this crap?

Consider this page an extension of the “Author” section. Some time ago, I realized that 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 am a real person writing under a pseudonym. I am an undergrad – uncommon in 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 has become my favorite one to use. My hobbies include literary translation, drawing/sequential art, hovering uneasily on the edge of photos, and of course, following Russian affairs.

My interests relevant to this blog include:

  • Russian domestic politics
  • Criminal, youth, and street subculture
  • American rusology
  • national identity, patriotism, and statebuilding
  • Putin the influence of personality upon politics and vice versa
    • the fictionalization of world leaders in novels

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

Why Russia?

tl;dr, basically, midway through high school (circa 2013) I became interested in the language after hearing a song by Zemfira on Soundcloud. True story. My interests soon branched outward into post-Soviet literature, Russian foreign/domestic policy, and subjects of vaguely anthropological character, and I would slip into university libraries to satisfy my hunger for relevant books. The classic literature/Tsarist Russia/ “truly Russophilic” stage of development was noticeably absent. The Syrian crisis of 2013 and ensuing disarray opened my eyes to what appeared to be a decline in American expertise on 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 and partly from curiosity. 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), the future is undefined for now.

Why did I start blogging?

I’m an ex-Goodreadser and posted reviews there for about three years before deciding to launch Russia Reviewed. I joined Goodreads the same year my interest in Russia blossomed. It was only a matter of time before the two intertwined.

A blog is currently the only available platform on which I can connect with a large community of people interested in Russia. What can I say – even at university, following Russia is not a popular hobby. 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 do not 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 am not a Russia expert and find something interesting to ponder in every substantive comment.

I hope that clears a few things up.

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