Russia Beyond the Headlines–about new book by Andrey Astvatsaturov.
The publishers approached Not just Salinger with caution, as it combines literary analysis about famous American and British writers with lyrical reflections and flashbacks to points from Astvatsaturov’s life. As he explains, "It’s a very different book, so we were a bit scared of losing readers–it was with the publishers for a year-and-a-half."
Despite its experimental quality–or perhaps because of it–the book has been a hit with the reading public, and indeed is not aimed at academics at all. "I focused on two kinds of readers," says Astvatsaturov. "Firstly writers who are just starting out and want to get some pointers from great writers, and secondly people who want to learn how to read." This comment seems somewhat odd, but Astvatsaturov is convinced that very few people truly know how to read. "It’s a very tough process," he says, "believe me, not even all literary academics can do it."
There is a didactic quality to Not just Salinger; Astvatsaturov is keen for his readers to learn something concrete from the English-speaking writers featured in the book, and is perhaps unique among Russian authors in this desire. "I didn’t select my subjects randomly," he says. "All 10 writers featured in the book taught me something beneficial, and I’m sure they can teach my readers as well."