I got this book a few years ago, and I still have it on my bed table, I still take it with me when I go away. Not only this collection of stories is great, but thanks to this book I have discovered writers I did not know and who became very important in my "reading life"...
This is a collection of shorties by Russian writers. For those who don't know, short stories are big in Russia (as big as novels), and writers are big in the Russian cultures ("the prophetes").
Now, 26 Russian writers are there, and for each writer there is a nice 1-2 pages introduction of the writer and of the following short story (stories).
The important thing is that not only you will read great short stories by Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Tchekov, Solzhenitsyn and so on, but you will also discover authors you had never heard of before. And, you might make great discoveries... And you might then dig into the other works by these writers - this is what happened to me.
So, for this, I would like to thank Robert Chandler.
Robert Chandler is the one who put together these short stories. He also translated quite a few of them. He is also the translator of Grossman (read "Life and Fate" if you haven't!) and Platonov - his favourite.
My impression (I don't know him) is that Chandler not only translates these books that he loves, he is also on a mission. That is, he is trying to make us discover those great not so well known writers. He knows that they are great but for some reason (*) they are not so well known, so he is "promoting" them (by editing this collection, and he also talked about it in a few interviews in the Guardian), he is giving them to us.
(*) I am not sure why some of them are not so well known. Many of the communist area writers could not publish their work.. And when it came out later - smuggled to the West - there was not much publicity for them (cf again "Life and Fate").