Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) was one of Russia’s great novelists. While best known as the author of Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, several of his other novels have also been recommended on Five Books, including Memoirs from the House of the Dead, a fictionalized account of his time in a Siberian labour camp.
Dostoevsky’s life was an eventful one, and you can read more about it in our interview with novelist Alex Christofi, author of Dostoevsky in Love, a biography that blends his life and his writing. Christofi also offers some tips on which Dostoevsky books to start off with if you’re not ready for the philosophical heft of his last and greatest work, The Brothers Karamazov.
Books by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Interviews where books by Fyodor Dostoevsky were recommended
His father had clawed his way up into the minor aristocracy, but Fyodor Dostoevsky chose to live the life of an impecunious author. He was sentenced to death, but his execution was stayed and he spent years in a Siberian labour camp instead. His books are about human compassion, but he was a difficult man who had trouble with his own personal relationships. Alex Christofi, author of a brilliant new biography of Dostoevsky, one of Russia’s greatest novelists, recommends five books to learn more about the man and his work—including the novel of which Tolstoy said he ‘didn’t know a better book in all our literature’.
The youngest four-star chief in the history of the NYPD, and a Medal of Valor laureate, chooses books that address the topic of policing from many angles – from the practical to the poetic
Robert Service, Professor of Russian Studies at Oxford, when forced to choose between Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, says Stalin was definitely the worst of the lot. He takes a look at the dynamics of totalitarian Russia, gleaning insights from Thucydides to Orwell.
From the days it was known as Muscovy to the Russian Empire described by the great novelists of the 19th century, historian Andrei Maylunas recommends books that give a feel for the country. Two are works of history, one is notes from a visiting ambassador in the 16th century, two are novels. All are entertaining to read and key to understanding the present.
Religion is often presented as the guardian of moral values. The problem with this, says the author and broadcaster, is that it diminishes what it means to be human. He picks the best books on morality without God.
Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room, which has been shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize, discusses the five books that have most influenced her writing, from Dostoyevsky to Marguerite Duras. She muses on the question of what fiction can offer: “A novel itself, if it is good, and effective at whatever its particular aesthetic and philosophical aim is, can answer the question best, so that a novelist doesn’t have to.”
Why do apparently ‘good’ people sometimes behave deplorably? Christian B Miller, professor of philosophy at Wake Forest University, selects five books that explore the subject of moral character and warns us to be cautious of making inferences about the underlying motives of others – and ourselves.
The former bishop of Oxford tells us about books that explore what it means to be a Christian – from St Augustine and medieval mysticism to grappling with Dostoyevsky and more modern dilemmas. He picks the best books on Christianity.
The writer of the hugely successful Prime Suspect television series, Lynda La Plante, selects her own favourite crime novels. We haven’t completed the interview with her yet, but her brief email comments appear beside her choices.