Review: The Romanov Sisters

The extent to which readers will enjoy Helen Rappaport’s The Romanov Sisters will most likely depend on one or two important factors.

First, it will help if you haven’t spent much time reading about the Russian Revolution, or if you have, that you enjoy hearing familiar details retold. After all, the tale of the last imperial family of Russia and their murder in Yekaterinburg in 1918 has not exactly suffered from a lack of exposure. The Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, and of course the “mad monk” Grigory Rasputin have been the subjects of countless books and numerous films.

Review: The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book

Nadezhda Mandelstam, widow of the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, once noted a “remarkable feature” common to Soviet leaders: “their boundless, almost superstitious respect for poetry.”

Indeed, as Peter Finn, a former Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post, and his co-author Petra Couvée point out in their new book The Zhivago Affair, in the Soviet Union a bad review could have lethal consequences. Some 1,500 writers were killed during the Stalin era.

Review: Foligatto by Nicolas de Crécy and Alexios Tjoyas

There are not many comics which feature bloated, castrated opera singers as the lead character.

In fact, it’s quite possible that there’s only one: Foligatto, by writer Alexios Tjoyas and artist Nicolas de Crécy, which was recently published by Humanoids. As you might expect, Foligatto is an extremely unusual work. In fact, it’s so unusual that it

Dictator Lit: The Poetry of Ayatollah Khomeini

Perhaps the most famous literary critic of the 20th century, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989) was renowned for his vehement loathing of the work of Salman Rushdie. Indeed, the Ayatollah (or Imam, as he liked to be known) loathed the Satanic Verses so much that he called for Rushdie’s execution. Now Rushdie may be a bit smug, but I think we can all agree that that was going a bit far. And as a British subject and lapsed Sunni Muslim, Rushdie was not under the Iranian Shiite “Supreme Leader’s” jurisdiction by any stretch of the imagination. Nor had the Ayatollah actually read the Satanic Verses. No surprise there of course- ignorance of the offending material is a sine qua non for those who would burn books and kill their authors.