4 Most Difficult Novels Written by Russian Author

Any of you must have had the joy of discovering some of the most intellectually challenging epistolary works. At some point, those who love to read as well as take a pleasure challenging themselves must have had turned to difficult novels when it was the night a week from finals and they were supposedly assigned to read something else. No one should fault you for turning to difficult novels. More often than not, it just so happens that plenty of literary works that are laid on the pedestal of the best works in history happen to be complex and confusing although they are very much worth reading.

From puzzling metaphors which often include religious references that are easily overlooked by readers unfamiliar with religious texts to elongated plots to overly arduous language, there are a lot of literary works that people have struggled with finishing, let alone comprehending.

Difficult Russian Novels

Understanding Russian novels, more specifically classics, requires knowledge about Russian history, Russian literary history, spiritual movements, religion, and especially Anthroposophy. Russian novels are also extremely difficult stylistically. A lot of meaning emerges just from a syntax which, of course, is lost in translation.

Russian authors are all fascinating writers, and also very heavy. One of the most notable authors is Maximilian Voloshin. He was usually regarded as a poet, but he was really a polymath who wrote stories on a variety of topics. He was also a talented sketch artist and painter. He once wrote a poem that he said only one other person in the entire world could understand.

Voloshin was difficult not so much for his sentence structures in the way other authors were but because he included so much of his vast learning into his poems, and to appreciate the depth of his poetry required knowing quite a bit about Russian and European history, both modern and ancient.

Written below are the 4 most difficult novels written by the Russian author. Some of these books are complex, difficult, and long. So, brace yourselves.

  1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Dostoyevsky made the decision to paint a family just like it is, along with all the contradictory emotions and actions and all the mood swings and difficult situations. He had already established his religious and political ideas in his earlier masterpieces, and so he could afford to let the characters be what they naturally were without judging them from the standpoint of history and society. Thus, he could be the storyteller he naturally was without any agenda but love for the story he told.

The plot is both simple and complex. The story tells about three brothers, along with the women they love in different ways and fashions, who face the murder of the old patriarchal buffoon. All of them have to come to terms with the painful reality of loving and hating at the same time.


In this novel, Dostoyevsky dares to let go of his mission to prove that Russian nationalism and Christian orthodox are at the center of the meaning of life. He actually makes a case for both in a much more convincing way than he ever could with his more concept and idea-driven earlier masterpieces.

  1. Day of the Oprichnik (Oprichnik’s Russia #1) by Vladimir Sorokin

It is a thought-provoking Science fiction novel of the worst possible Russia could imagine. But while the novel is dark, it also is hilarious, and then it has this wonderfully satirical nature about it. Komiaga is the narrator of this novel, an anti-hero and one of the Tsar’s most devoted henchmen. While the humor and satire throughout this novel are grotesque, this novel is a perfect example of great contemporary Russian literature as well as a political critique.

There is no real overarching plot to speak off aside from simply seeing what happens in a typical day in the life of a member of this special group such as what they are allowed to do, how their oppression works, et cetera. In contrast to the Science fiction novel that relies on the creativeness of its inventions, say, social, scientific, and whatnot, the reason Sorokin’s novel is most successful is due to its satirical charms and frightening truth that, no matter what changes, there is always a secret group of oprichniki with special privileges.

  1. The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin

This novel is much more than a literary, illusionary magic trick. It is about selective amnesia and survival, sacrifice and irony, the purpose of art, the power of the conscience, following one’s dreams and living through other people’s dreams, and many more. There are parts in this novel that will make your chest tighten. Sukhanov’s mental breakdown is beautiful, claustrophobic, and hopeless.


The world of Sukhanov is highly addictive. You will never really know what is going to happen next as this Soviet official wanders around 1980s Moscow in a fog, dipping in and out of reality, and creating some very amusing scenes with those around him.

  1. The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya

It is a terrifying novel. And what makes this novel so terrifying is how accurately it captures the darkness that inhabits the souls of our everyday average humans, the darkness that makes us hang our heads in shame for our little pathetic human race. These traits are hidden right under the surface such as naked power hunger, greed, xenophobia, extreme egoism, glee at others’ misery, hatred of anything different, and many more. These are always there, lurking in depths of the human soul, be it individual or collective, just barely reigned in, barely forced underground by the influence of science, medicine, technology, literature, and social conscience.

So, those are 4 most difficult novels written by the Russian author. Have you read any of those? If not, it is about time you pick up one or two.

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