March 15, 2005

A new guide to Russia and Russians . . .


In Russia during Soviet times, “the idea of guidebooks was as strange as the concept of travel itself.” But things are different now, and a Moscow Times report by Victor Sonkin says, “travel is now a growing industry in Russia,” and “Moscow’s bookstores are swarming with guidebooks of all persuasions.” Unfortunately, however, “almost all are translations, written for a different audience — and the translations themselves are often pathetic.” So Sonkin searches out the exceptions to the rule—and discovers “the most interesting player in this niche is the publisher Afisha, which is publishing an unorthodox new series of guidebooks for metropolitan Russians on “the most visited European cities.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.