I have finished reading another book for another one of my classes. That other book was Fathers and Sons (also translated as Fathers and Children) by Ivan Turgenev. Once considered one of Russia’s foremost stylists, Turgenev has largely been overshadowed by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. I find that rater unfortunate because I really enjoyed Fathers and Sons and would like to read some of his other works when I am able to. A far cry from the obese volumes the other two are famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) for, Fathers and Sons is only 160 pages long; a sensible length for most people.
It tells a story of a recently graduated college student named Arkady, who returns home with his friend Bazarov. The two embrace the radical philosophy of nihilism, which brings them into conflict with their elders and the more conservative (or less radical) members of their own generation. The setting in Russia in the 1850s, right before the serfs were emancipated. Though it is not a novel of action or excitement, it is a strong character driven story made excellent by well crafted dialogue. While the plot itself is very easy to follow, do be warned that you MUST print out the Cliffnotes page for the cast of characters; each character is referred to by three different names, their given name, patronymic, and surname, as is Russian custom. Also, be sure to pick up a copy that contains footnote; the entire books is filled with mentions of various events, customs, individuals, and so on that you will not have heard of. If you take my advice, the book has the potential for a very enjoyable read.
I highly recommend Fathers and Sons to anyone interested in Russian history or dynamic character development.