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Lost and Found in Russia: Lives in the Post-Soviet Landscapeby Susan Richards
Synopses & Reviews
After the fall of communism, Russia was in a state of shock. The sudden and dramatic change left many people adrift and uncertain—but also full of a tentative but tenacious hope. Returning again and again to the provincial hinterlands of this rapidly evolving country from 1992 to 2008, Susan Richards struck up some extraordinary friendships with people in the middle of this historical drama. Anna, a questing journalist, struggles to express her passionate spirituality within the rules of the new society. Natasha, a restless spirit, has relocated from Siberia in a bid to escape the demands of her upper-class family and her own mysterious demons. Tatiana and Misha, whose business empire has blossomed from the ashes of the Soviet Union, seem, despite their luxury, uneasy in this new world. Richards watches them grow and change, their fortunes rise and fall, their hopes soar and crash.
Through their stories and her own experiences, Susan Richards demonstrates how in Russia, the past and the present cannot be separated. She meets scientists convinced of the existence of UFOs and mind-control warfare. She visits a cult based on working the land and a tiny civilization founded on the practices of traditional Russian Orthodoxy. Gangsters, dreamers, artists, healers, all are wondering in their own ways, “Who are we now if we’re not communist? What does it mean to be Russian?” This remarkable history of contemporary Russia holds a mirror up to a forgotten people. Lost and Found in Russia is a magical and unforgettable portrait of a society in transition.
"Part travelogue, part contemporary history, Richards's new work explores postcommunist Russia from the point of view of the Russian people directly affected by one of the 20th century's most defining sociopolitical events, the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Recounting her travels in Russia from 1992 to 2008, Richards, who wrote the PEN/Time-Life Award — winning Epics of Everyday Life, focuses on the country's forgotten provinces and the lives of her friends--the monastic, poetic journalist Anna; the manic, wandering couple Natasha and Igor; entrepreneurial Misha and his serene beauty of a wife, Tatiana. As a writer Richards wears her heart on her sleeve, and her story is full of empathy, frustration, and admiration as she observes her friends going through the roller-coaster of emotions, from hope to despair. And while glimpses into the lives of Russia's common folk are interesting, the real gems Richards uncovers are about the parts of the Russian society and mindset that remained hidden from Western eyes for nearly a century. Whether she is discovering a town said to be frequented by UFOs, exploring Russia's development of parapsychological weapons, or visiting a lab where 'communication with the divine' is studied, Richards is constantly exposing a mystical and religious side of Russia that flies in the face of Western rationalism. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Susan Richards is the author of Epics of Everyday Life, which won the PEN/Time
Life Award for Non-Fiction and the Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award in 1990. She edits open Democracy Russia, part of open-Democracy, the Web site about global affairs, which she cofounded. After earning a doctorate on Alexander Solzhenitsyn from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, she initiated the program of talks, conferences, and debates at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and worked as a film producer. With her husband, the television producer Roger Graef, she started Bookaid, a charity that sent a million English-language books to public libraries throughout the Soviet Union.
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History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History