Reading, talking and playing literature: community literary practices of the UK Russian-speaking diaspora
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date07/12/2023
This thesis is an ethnographic study of the Russophone community literary life in Britain focusing on the Waterstones’ Russian Book Club (WRBC), the largest book club of its kind in the country. The WRBC began its monthly Russian literature-focused meetings in London at Waterstones Piccadilly in March 2017, having developed out of a long tradition of small, in-house gatherings. Four years later, the book club numbers almost 1700 members bringing together Russian-speaking readers from inside and outside Britain. The aim of this work is to examine the role of literature and specifically community literary practices in the construction of transnational Russophone identities in the UK. The data collection was conducted through offline participant observation of the WRBC literary gatherings, virtual ethnography of online activities, as well as semi-structured and in-depth interviews with the book club members and visiting writers. Drawing on this data, I contend that shared reading practices offer an entry point to the global Russian-speaking ideoscape to post-Soviet migrants and contribute to the survival of Russian literaturocentrism in the diaspora, the formation of a long-distance relationship with the cultural homeland, and the creation of a global reading community.