Crime and Punishment 20th century style
review by Maryom
An elderly woman disappears from her communal apartment in Moscow one day in Spring. The other occupants immediately try to lay claim to her flat - in fact some have had their eye on it for a while which leads to the possibility that someone may have murdered her for it. When the police seem disinclined to take any action, two of the tenants decide to investigate themselves.
The whole story is presented as a 'real life' alternative working of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, with many asides on the nature of art, the similarities and differences between literature and reality, and the importance of literature in the lives of average Russians. In between there's an intriguing whodunnit as the two tenants investigate ghostly sightings, death threats cut from a children's book and disappearing photographs.
It's an enjoyable enough without, but I think that anyone who's read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment will appreciate The New Moscow Philosophy more. It's a long, long while since I read Crime and Punishment and I'm sure I missed some of the nuances here. As a total Jane Austen fan, I can watch Bride and Prejudice, the Bollywood re-make of Pride and Prejudice and pick up all the references to the original - I'm sure that sort of in-depth knowledge of Crime and Punishment would have added to my appreciation of The New Moscow Philosophy.
I've been reading a lot of translated fiction over the past few months and feel that here it was not of the quality I've found elsewhere. While doubtless retaining a sense of 'foreignness' is sometimes a good thing, I felt constantly reminded of it, particularly in the translation of idioms.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Twisted Spoon Press
Genre - adult, literary fiction, translated fiction
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