Molotov’s Magic Lantern Challenge

Hello Books@One readers,

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter.


Polonsky’s ‘Molotov’s Magic Lantern’ made for, shall we say, an interesting discussion at our last book club meeting. We had trouble even categorising it in the first place- is it a travelogue, a memoir, a piece of scholarly research? You decide.

 Polonsky looks at how Russia’s conflicts have shaped and influenced its literary culture, ‘History is sly, and shapes strange reciprocities. “If Molotov did not exist,” Stalin remarked, “it would be necessary to invent him.” The nightingale poets whose songs the Party could not silence, owed their tragic greatness to killers like Molotov.’ For some people to be able to process the idea of war, they must write their experiences down in order to make any sense of what they have gone through. Consequently, great literature has been borne out of great conflict. Polonsky’s ambitious undertaking aims to explore the marriage between these two ideas.

The fluctuating academic nature of this text will not appeal to every reader. Without a doubt, the level of research shared is incredible but does it grab you? In our discussion, we were divided. It did open up new avenues of interest into this enigmatic country for some.
While the text examines Russia’s complex political history, past and present, it also explores the everyday- food, work, tradition, landscape etc. No stone is left unturned: be prepared. Polonsky’s own lyrical voice was pleasant to read but you have to search for it
amidst the street names and dates!


From Russia with Love, next stop India.

Our April Books@One book club choice is ‘Lion’ by Saroo Brierley (previously published as ‘A Long Way Home: A Memoir’ and now a major motion picture).

If you believe in the saying ‘Home is where the heart is’, what happens when you’re taken from one home and find yourself another?
Saroo shares the remarkable story of his early life. Having found himself lost on the streets of Calcutta, one of the world’s busiest cities, at five years old Saroo is later adopted by an Australian couple.


Both books are available for purchase in store, along with a host of other fabulous titles.

Enjoy and happy reading!

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