The Akunin Project: The Mysteries and Histories of Russia's Bestselling Author

Edited by Elena V. Baraban and Stephen M. Norris

© 2021

The Akunin Project is the first book to study the fiction and popular history of Grigorii Chkhartishvili, one of the most successful writers in post-Soviet Russia. In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, Chkhartishvili has published over sixty books under the pen names Anatolii Brusnikin, Anna Borisova, Akunin-Chkhartishvili, and most commonly, Boris Akunin. His series featuring the tsarist secret policeman Erast Fandorin has sold over 15 million books in Russia alone, making Akunin one of the bestselling authors of the post-Soviet era. Combining intertextuality, allusions, pastiche, and other markers of postmodern playfulness, many of Akunin’s works have been translated into English and have also been adapted for film and television. Akunin’s public profile has been further enhanced by his active involvement in mass political protests against Vladimir Putin. The author left Russia in 2014 and currently lives in Western Europe as an ex-pat.

Despite Akunin’s international reputation as a celebrated writer, there is very little critical work on his literary output and his mysterious persona. Bringing together scholars of literature, history, and culture, The Akunin Project fills this gap by exploring the author’s bestselling adventure novels and recent histories of the Russian state. The book includes translations of five short works previously unavailable in English as well as an interview with the author.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 372 pages
  • Illustrations: 4
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP006523

  • AVAILABLE FEB 2021
    From: $46.95
    ISBN 9781487525767
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    From: $95.00
    ISBN 9781487508265
  • AVAILABLE JAN 2021
    From: $46.95

Quick Overview

You don’t know his name, but Boris Akunin is one of the most popular and prolific Russian writers of the twenty-first century.

The Akunin Project: The Mysteries and Histories of Russia's Bestselling Author

Edited by Elena V. Baraban and Stephen M. Norris

© 2021

The Akunin Project is the first book to study the fiction and popular history of Grigorii Chkhartishvili, one of the most successful writers in post-Soviet Russia. In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, Chkhartishvili has published over sixty books under the pen names Anatolii Brusnikin, Anna Borisova, Akunin-Chkhartishvili, and most commonly, Boris Akunin. His series featuring the tsarist secret policeman Erast Fandorin has sold over 15 million books in Russia alone, making Akunin one of the bestselling authors of the post-Soviet era. Combining intertextuality, allusions, pastiche, and other markers of postmodern playfulness, many of Akunin’s works have been translated into English and have also been adapted for film and television. Akunin’s public profile has been further enhanced by his active involvement in mass political protests against Vladimir Putin. The author left Russia in 2014 and currently lives in Western Europe as an ex-pat.

Despite Akunin’s international reputation as a celebrated writer, there is very little critical work on his literary output and his mysterious persona. Bringing together scholars of literature, history, and culture, The Akunin Project fills this gap by exploring the author’s bestselling adventure novels and recent histories of the Russian state. The book includes translations of five short works previously unavailable in English as well as an interview with the author.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 372 pages
  • Illustrations: 4
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    “A fascinating and coherent volume, The Akunin Project avoids the turgid scholarly writing that is so often an obstacle to pleasant reading, without sacrificing scholarly rigor. Baraban and Norris’s editorial work is on par with their solo scholarship; their selection of strong contributions by other scholars shows how much value there is in bringing in different voices.”
    Eliot Borenstein, Department of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University

    The Akunin Project critically and creatively engages with the work of one of the most important contemporary artists in Russian literature. This volume addresses his fictive character as a phenomenon of global importance insofar as it helps reflect on contemporary global issues such as the blurring of boundaries between truth and reality, revisionism, populism, and so on. Including unpublished works by Akunin as well as works by experts on Russian literature, this volume is an informative and enjoyable item to have on one’s bookshelf.”
    Vlad Strukov, Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Leeds

    The Akunin Project is as satisfying, protean, and innovative as Akunin himself. This book will do much to enhance readers’ appreciation and understanding of an outstanding representative of contemporary Russian culture.”
    Marcia Morris, Department of Slavic Languages, Georgetown University
  • Author Information

    Elena V. Baraban is an associate professor in the Department of German and Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba.



    Stephen M. Norris is the Walter E. Havighurst professor of Russian History and the Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Ohio.
  • Table of contents

    1. Introduction: The Akunin Project
    Elena V. Baraban and Stephen M. Norris

    2. Interview with Grigorii Chkhartishvili: Boris Akunin Introduces the Edited Volume

    Part I. Postmodern Detektiv: The Erast Fandorin Series

    3. In Search of a Hero: Boris Akunin’s Death of Achilles
    Elena V. Baraban

    4. Rewriting Homer: Boris Akunin’s Postmodern Approach
    Judith Kalb

    Part II. Amateur Detectives: The Sister Pelagia Trilogy and Adventures of Nicholas Fandorin

    5. Tempting the Reader into a Search for Meaning: Boris Akunin’s Pelagia Trilogy
    Claire Whitehead

    6. "A Little Theory": Boris Akunin’s "Crime and Punishment"
    Zara Torlone

    Part III. Buried Secrets and Historical Spies in Akunin’s Works

    7. The Mysteries of Moscow: In Which Boris Akunin Impersonates a French Writer and Reveals a Buried Secret
    Elizabeth Richmond-Garza

    8. Spying on the Past: Boris Akunin’s History of Espionage
    Stephen M. Norris

    Part IV. Re-Writing the History of Russia

    9. L’√Čtat, C’est Tout: Boris Akunin’s History of the Russian State and the National History Canon
    Ilya Gerasimov

    10. An Instructional Manual for the Nation: Boris Akunin’s History of the Russian State
    Stephen M. Norris

    Part V. New Pseudonyms and Projects: Anatoly Brusnikin and Akunin-Chkhartishvili

    11. "Under the Wide-Branching Cranberry": Stiob and Allusion in Anatoly Brusnikin’s Ninth Savior
    Yekaterina Severts

    12. The Family Album: Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances
    Elena V. Baraban

    Part VI. Boris Akunin as a Literary and Commercial Project

    13. Socialist Realism Inside-Out: Boris Akunin and Mass Literature for the Elite
    Bradley Gorski

    14. Boris Akunin and Cross-Media Marketing
    Natalia Erlenkamp

    15. Conclusion: A Dozen Questions for Boris Akunin

    Appendices: Excerpts from Boris Akunin's Untranslated Works

    1. Grigorii Chkhartishvili, "If I Were a Newspaper Magnate: Notes of a Restless Cow" (1999), translated by Bradley Gorski

    2. "A New Karamzin Has Appeared" and "General Introduction" to Boris Akunin, The History of the Russian State, translated by Stephen M. Norris

    3. Excerpt from Boris Akunin, Spy Novel (2005), translated by Stephen M. Norris

    4. Excerpt from Anatoly Brusnikin, The Ninth Savior, translated by Yekaterina Severts

    List of Works by Boris Akunin

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