Elif Bauman is an American academic, from a Turkish family, who asks how she ended up spending seven years in California studying the Russian novel? In this book she talks about conferences she attended; such as one on Babel in California and another in Tolstoy's ancestral home. Also time she spent in Samarkand learning Uzbek, as well as other Russian visits and many other Russian authors. Actually though, what the book is about is her love affair with Russian literature and, as someone who shares her love for all things Russian, it is a joy to read. I adore books about books and Elif Bauman writes so well, with such humour and passion, that the book has become one of my favourites immediately and Bauman an author I hope I will hear (and read) much from.
Although a series of essays, Bauman has endless humourous stories to tell and she weaves her tales into those about the authors and books she loves, meandering delightfully off the point and having a wonderful sense of humour about all that befalls her on her travels. If you have an interest in Russia and a love of literature, then this book is for you. As for her original question about how she spent so long studying the Russian novel? Well, all I can say is that I am glad she did and I look forward to more from this extremely talented writer. An absolute joy and pleasure to read and I also learnt a lot. Highly recommended.