A Russian export “better than sex” and more valuable than oil

At the New York Book Fair, Russian publishers were allotted a spot between Saudi Arabia and Nebraska, which, regrettably, accurately reflects the perception of the average American: a boundless steppe with oil derricks sprouting up. The downside is that this ignorance holds back our literature, too. The upside, if I may say so, is that America treats the whole wealth of translated literature in the same fashion. Foreign books are just like subtitled movies: They are watched from time to time in New York, at festivals, and on university campuses. The situation is even more difficult with respect to literature, since Americans are only guided by their own Who’s Who.

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