I saw this article on the declining quality of Russian literature at the hands of brutal market forces last week (via Lit Saloon, I think) and wasn’t going to comment on it here.
That is, until I saw this list of best-sellers in Russia (via the November issue of The Atlantic):
A top-ten book list, as of August 2005, based on sales data compiled by Moscow’s Dom Knigi (House of Books).
1. I Take My Words Back, by Viktor Suvorov. A Russian military historian finds flaws in the memoirs of the late Soviet World War II hero Marshal Zhukovâ€”and takes his words back for him.
2. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. World economic institutions are purportedly shown to be as corrupt and conspiracy-ridden as Russians always believed them to be.
3. The Blue Day Book, by Bradley Trevor Greive. Animal photos and corny captions as mood enhancers, compiled by a Tasmanian author.
4. My Life, by Bill Clinton. The memoirs of Russia’s favorite American president.
5. Catherine the Great: The Diamond Cinderella, by Aleksandr Bushkov. A patriotic account of a German noblewoman’s rise to the Russian throne and of her rule as an enlightened despot.
6. Hunting for Werewolves, by Aleksandr Khinshtein. A Duma deputy’s exposÃ© of the gravest threat to law and order in Russia: “werewolves” (corrupt law-enforcement officers).
7. Business Is Psychology, by Marina Meliya. Self-help for the disgruntled Russian businessman.
8. Lost Civilization: In Search of Lost Mankind, by Aleksei Maslov. The “true” history of mankind, including Atlantis, our vanished horned ancestors, and mysterious giants.
9. Doctor Sinelnikov’s Practical Course: How to Learn to Love Yourself, by V. Sinelnikov and S. Slobodchikov. A step-by-step course in supermarket psychology, Russian-style, for sufferers of low self-esteem.
10. The Mafia Manager: A Guide to the Corporate Machiavelli, by V. An anonymous author confirms what Russian entrepreneurs already know: business isn’t about mission statements, but about who whacks whomâ€”commercially, of course.
Is this really that much worse than our good ol’ American bestseller lists?