New York’s Russian Bookstore #21, located on the second floor of an unassuming office building, at the end of a flight of drab stairs, was the venue for a Russian-language reading and talk by poet, editor, critic, and translator Dmitry Kuzmin on April 18.
The store is oddly named considering it’s the only Russian-language bookstore in Manhattan (though there are a few in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach). It reminds me of every library in every Russian home (or formerly communal apartment, rather) I’ve ever visited: dark brown bookshelves covering all walls from floor to ceiling, stacked with aging books, some piled on top of one another to make space. Russian Bookstore #21 is filled with the classics, volume after volume of full collections by Chekhov and Tolstoy, sprinkled with contemporary works and works in translation. The design of Russian books is mostly tacky, and the paper stock of older books published in the Soviet Union yellows and flakes rather quickly. The wall décor in the store complements the merchandise: kitschy fading art posters and a black and white enlarged photo of several men, including Vladimir Lenin. Read full article