Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

February Books 9) Red Plenty, by Francis Spufford

This is a really interesting book, a light on an important period of history (the Soviet Union from 1959 to 1969) of which I knew much less than I had realised, looked at through the eyes of true believers in the economic system of Communism as it developed under Khrushchev, who were then bitterly disappointed as Brezhnev and Kosygin (and later Brezhnev alone) took over. I grew up at the tail end of the Brezhnev era, when the Soviet system seemed monolithic and permanent; subsequent events proved that in fact it was not nothing of the kind, and Spufford's book reminds us that it was all actually rather recent anyway. It's told as a series of short stories from the point of view of some of the key economic / cybernetic thinkers of the time, including Khrushchev himself, with some perspectives from ordinary middle-class Soviet life thrown in for good measure, all meticulously footnoted; also all very human, and all told with good humour, to the point where one can understand how otherwise intelligent people could have believed in the system and wanted to perpetuate it. Strongly recommended.

Apart, that is, from the front cover which spells the title ЯED PLENTY rather then RED PLENTY, because, y'know, Я makes it look Russian. Look, Faber, this is simply not good enough. Я in Cyrillic is a vowel, not a consonant, and sounds nothing like R. While I am on the subject, И is also a vowel and sounds nothing like N; and Д is a consonant which sounds nothing like A. Putting ЯED PLENTY on your front cover is not cute, it is ignorant, and will certainly deter anyone with any real knowledge about Russia from even picking the book up in the shop, let alone buying it. It's up to you if you want to alienate your potential readership; I would have thought not, myself, but what do I know?
Tags: bookblog 2011, bsfa 2010
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