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Defector Reads A Book Has Made Its Winter Pick

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“I do firmly believe that winter is the time for Russian writers,” an acclaimed writer and podcaster once wrote us in a private communiqué. Who are we to disagree? It’s cold out. We’re going to watch the Devil visit Moscow. This December we’ll be reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a satire with a gestation period slightly longer than your average blog post. The author began writing in 1928, burned the original manuscript in 1930 to avoid Stalinist persecution, and kept rewriting in secret until his death in 1940, after which it was protected by his widow Yelena Shilovskaya, who got it published in 1966 and 1967. The novel itself details the burning of a novel; “Manuscripts don’t burn,” concludes the Master.

Despite having gotten to the second paragraph of this post, I’m still on the fence. I can’t help but wonder: How would actor and Defector enthusiast Daniel Radcliffe appraise this pick? “My favorite novel—it’s just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart.” OK. Now I will go to my local library, independent bookstore, or Bookshop.org (where you’ll find a list of previous Defector Reads A Book selections and some other staff favorites.) Then I will read. And then I will see you all here on Wednesday, January 11 for some stimulating chatter. Thank you for joining us on the maddening and tender romp that was Tristram Shandy. If you followed us there, you’ll follow us anywhere.

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