My first ever trip to Russia soon – a few days in St Petersburg - so I have been looking out a few relevant books. They include J M Coetzee’s Master of St Petersburg, the short story collection A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia by Victor Pelevin, You Will Hear Thunder, a collection of poetry by Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich (a real trip back into my teenage past), and mafia thriller Dead Meat by Philip Kerr. I should of course read some Dostoevsky, but I was attracted by the virtues of brevity and novelty, so I have left even Crime and Punishment at home. Another option would be Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, an autobiographical work covering his St Petersburg childhood.
Dead Meat left me completely unstirred and slightly revolted, so I abandoned the violence and the mafia after 50 pages. Of the others, you'll hear more!
Any other ideas?