Imagine the wonders of the kaleidoscope. While it is made up of many fractured, unruly and colorful segments, you can still hold it against the light, turn the wheel, and freeze one gorgeous pattern into place. These are precisely the kind of beautiful snapshots one is treated to while reading the fantastic new book by Francis Spufford, Red Plenty
Part historical re-creation and part fiction, the novel gives us a series of colorful sketches of the USSR after Stalin's death, when millions still believed in the ideal of economic plenty promised by communism. The characters that populate Red Plenty
are both imagined and real; economists, scientists, everyday factory workers, and even shady businessmen all come to life in a series of short vignettes. Characters that appear at the very beginning reappear as they grow older and come to terms with life's...
Beyond the Book
One of the most fascinating byproducts of the Russian planned economy is the academic town of Akademgorodok (Ah-kah-DYEM-gor-oh-dok) in Siberia. It is approximately 30 kilometers south of the larger Siberian city of Novosibirsk (No-VO-see-beersk), and is the setting for some of Red Plenty
's most riviting stories, featuring a genetics and cytology researcher named Zoya Veynshteyn.
Looking to populate Siberia and avoid the bureaucratic interference of Moscow, while creating a haven for the sciences at the same time, Russian premier Nikita Kruschev supported the creation of Akademgorodok (aka Academy...