pushkin house recommends - Best non-fiction books about russia published in 2018

Published 21 March 2019

While our Pushkin House Russian Book Prize judges still have the unenviable task of deciding the 2019 shortlist we have put together a list of 14 books published in 2018 that have particularly piqued our interest here at Pushkin House. The judges’ shortlist of six - which will be announced on 25 April - may or may not include some of these titles! 'Pushkin House Recommends' showcases the exciting and extraordinary range of books being published about Russia. The books have been chosen for their ability to challenge our knowledge and understanding of Russia in an engaging and thought-provoking way, and for being accessible to the wider reader. In selecting these books we have tried to include titles across different categories and genres, including biography, memoir, history, art and culture as well as those shining a spotlight on today’s Russia.

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Please click on the titles to learn more:

1983: The World at The Brink by Taylor Downing (Little, Brown)

Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy (Allen Lane)

Greetings From the Barricades: Revolutionary Postcards In Imperial Russia by Tobie Mathew (Four Corners Books)

Maybe Esther by Katja Petrowskaja, translated from German by Shelley Frisch (4th Estate)

Memoirs of a Wartime Interpreter: From the Battle for Moscow to Hitler's Bunker by Elena Rzhevskaya, foreword by Roger Moorhouse and translated from Russian by Arch Tait (Greenhill Books)

Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie by Elisabeth Schimpfössl (Oxford University Press)

Smoking Under the Tsars: A History of Tobacco in Imperial Russia by Tricia Starks (Cornell University Press)

Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed by John Suchet (Elliot & Thompson)

The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space by Owen Hatherley (Repeater Books)

The Collector: The Story of Sergei Shchukin and His Lost Masterpieces by Natalya Semenova and André-Marc Delocque-Fourcaud (Yale University Press)

The Long Hangover: Putin’s New Russia and the Ghosts of the Past by Shaun Walker (Oxford University Press)

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre (Viking)

The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia by Mark Galeotti (Yale University Press)

To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture by Eleonory Gilburd (Belknap Press)

Buy in our book shop!

We are adding all these titles to our Pushkin House book shop, which also takes online orders. We would love it if you choose us over the market giants. Proceeds from the book shop support Pushkin House's charitable activities and ensure the continuity of our work.


The Pushkin House Book Prize - worth £5,000 to the winner - was created to encourage public understanding and intelligent debate about the Russian-speaking world. The prize is for a book published in English, but translations from other languages, including of course Russian, are included. We will be holding a series of events connected to 'Pushkin House Recommends' and the 2019 shortlist.


 November 2018: Prize opened for entries from publishers and 2019 judges announced

31 December 2018: Prize closed for entries

21 March 2019: 'Pushkin House Recommends' list published

25 April 2019: 2019 Shortlist announced

12 June 2019: Winner of Pushkin House Russian Book Prize 2019 announced and presented at an award ceremony and dinner at The Charterhouse, London


The 2019 Pushkin Prize is being generously supported by Douglas Smith (author and winner of the inaugural award in 2013) and Stephanie Ellis-Smith and by the Polonsky Foundation. The London Russian Book Club has become an additional sponsor in 2019.

If you have any questions about the 'Pushkin House Recommends' list or the Book Prize, please email Rebecca Ostrovsky: rebecca.ostrovsky@pushkinhouse.org.uk

Join us at the 2019 Pushkin House Book Prize Award Ceremony and Dinner!

The dinner and ceremony will be held on Wednesday 12 June at the Charterhouse, London.

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