What's the best Russian book?

Michael asked:
What's the best Russian book, oh bookworm?

Alvin asked:
I have just one question: Are there any Russian books you recommend?

These are the most amazing and also the most difficult questions to think about. Really.
It’s painfully hard to choose several from many things you like in general.

But if you add "...which have been translated into English", they turn into super-simple questions.
Many good books (and unusual, and beloved) haven’t. I have to think of good old classics — and Amazon for checking is they have been translated — for this.

Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip: The 1935 Travelogue of Two Soviet Writers

Ilf and Petrov are two friends of Mayakovsky, Bulgakov and other writers from the beginning of XX century. They wrote together, mostly witty stories and newspaper articles. They’ve been sent to US by «Truth» newspaper («Pravda» in Russian) and somehow they captured American life from perfect Soviet point of view. They even tried not to blame America for bad things they’ve seen around (which was common). They try to stay as unbiased as possible.

Stories of Anton Chekhov

I know you might have heard about Chekhov but he really is one of the most talented Russian classic writer. He traveled a lot and he was a doctor. Curious and funny, he is our Raymond Carver (but optimistic one).

Any novel by Vladimir Nabokov (or essays, or interviews)

Perfect stylist, Nabokov is the only author I know who didn’t only wrote amazingly beautiful prose but also translated his own books to English/Russian. He started writing in Russian and then he moved to Europe with revolution, then he settled in US and then wrote in English, translating novels to his mother tongue.

As I’ve prepared this list, I understood that I’ve been grown up on so many foreign books. Arthur Conan Doyle, Ray Bradbury and Herman Hesse are some of the examples. It’s so hard to even try thinking what a person I would’ve been without their impact.

P.S. I got a reply from Listserv reader Philip Metres, poet, writer and translator. He showed me books on famous (but not very famous) Russians and I'd like to mention them, too. Maybe it will be a nice introduction for you:

P.P.S. See also this edition:

This post is an answer to one of The Listserve replies I’ve got.
You can ask your question, too.

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