Tanya Ilyina

December 2010: This month we feature Tanya Ilyina from our Moscow office who is leading on planning for Russia 2011 over there.

The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi – A beautiful first novel from this Indian-based novelist reflecting her Indian and Welsh heritage. The storyline of this gripping family saga bounces between London, Wales and Madras while Doshi uses employs rhythm and repetition to give the language a musical quality. Sinead Russell

Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson – A compelling debut about a girl with disabilities sent to live in a psychiatric hospital in the 1950′s. The novel contrasts Graces’s intelligent and vibrant thoughts with her limited ability to communicate them. This is a memorable book, beautifully written. Karen Brodie

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – Although this novel is now quite old, I am re-reading it as a film version has just been released. The book tackles the issues surrounding a future of human cloning and delves into the problems of science versus humanity in a refreshing and engaging way. Justyna Kwasniewski

The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner – Edinburgh Bookcase author reviists the young Scottish female cast of earlier novel ‘The Sopranos’ as they set off on a holiday adventure that never makes it out of the airport. Instead we are taken on a journey into the dynamics of the twenty-something girls as they’re reunited with their childhood gang plus a newcomer along for the ride. At times the voices are bracingly realistic and at others less convincing. Throughout however, Warner keeps up a lively momentum of plot and dialogue that both engages and entertains. Julia Ziemer

Small Island by Andrea Levy – Wartime and post-war Britain is brought to life by Andrea Levy’s warm and witty characterisation of human relationships, seen through the various prisms of race, class and love. Kate Arthurs

God’s Own Country by Ross Raisin – A snapshot of rural England and the problems of the decline of UK farming provide the backdrop for this disturbing tale of a young mans inability to interact on a social level, which produces an extremely tense narrative with a palpable sense of horror as his friendship with a young neighbour spirals out of control. Nicolas Chapman

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks – Faulks follows the lives of disparate Londoners through a normal week mid-Deecmber. As their lives are revealed as being all too relevant to the state of our times, their actions build to a tense dinner party climax that keeps the pages turning. Sophie Wardell

Leo Tolstoy; Escape from Paradise by Russian writer and journalist Pavel Bassinsky – The book explores the reasons behind the famous writer and philosopher’s escape from Yasnaya Polyana in November 1910, a few days before his death, to a small railway station called Astapovo.

Pavel Bassinsky analyses the development of LeoTolstoy’s philosophy throughout his life, as well as the complex relationship he had with his wife Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya and how it influenced the whole family. The book suggests reasons for Leo Tolstoy’s escape, which shocked the whole world then and to this day continues to provoke a lot of debate.

The book has just received one of the most prestigious literature awards in Russia, ‘Big Book’. We are very proud that Pavel Bassinsky will be taking part in the Russia Market Focus cultural programme at the London Book Fair in April 2011, where we hope he will talk about his research in preparation for writing this fascinating book. Tanya Illyina

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