Famous Russian Novelists

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Russian literature has its roots well laid in the Middle Ages when epics and chronicles formed a major chunk of the literary circles. During the Age of Enlightenment i.e. from 1830s, Russian literature burgeoned and propelled and reached its peak. It was during this Golden age of Russian literature that novelists emerged. Nikolai Gogol was the first great Russian novelist. A preeminent figure of the literary circle, Gogol’s work had his impressionist vision of reality and people. ‘Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka’, ‘The Government Inspector’ and ‘Dead Souls are few of his early works. He was soon followed by Ivan Turgenev, a short story writer and novelist of the 19th century. Turgenev’s ‘Fathers and Sons’ is one amongst the greatest fiction novels of the 19th century. Other novels penned by this eminent litterateur include ‘On the Eve’, ‘Smoke’ and ‘Virgin Soil’. However, the biggest breakthrough of Russian novels internationally came with the works by Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. These two novelists brought fame and recognition of Russian novels on international soil. While Tolstoy is till date regarded as the greatest authors of all time, Dostoyevsky’s literary works exploring human psychology explored a new genre in Russian literature. 20th century Russia had prominent novelists such as Aleksandr Kuprin, Leonid Andreyev and Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin amongst many others. Read this section to know more about Russian novelists, their life, works and timeline.
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 1 
Leo Tolstoy
(One of the Greatest Authors of All Time)
Leo Tolstoy
6
Birthdate: September 9, 1828
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
Died: November 20, 1910

Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, is widely considered as one of the greatest authors ever. After experiencing a profound moral crisis in the 1870s, Tolstoy went through a phase of spiritual awakening, which had a great impact on his subsequent works that incorporated ideas on nonviolent resistance. These works influenced personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, thereby effectively changing the course of history.

 2 
Fyodor Dostoevsky
(Best Known for His Novella Notes from The 'Underground')
Fyodor Dostoevsky
4
Birthdate: November 11, 1821
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 9, 1881
Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky is remembered as one of the pioneers of existentialism. He is best known for psychological and philosophical themes in his works, such as Crime and Punishment and The Idiot. He was arrested for being critical of Tsarist Russia and spent a 4-year prison term in Siberia.
 3 
Vladimir Nabokov
(Best Known For His Novels 'Lolita' and 'Pale Fire')
Vladimir Nabokov
5
Birthdate: April 23, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 2, 1977
Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, also known by his pen name, Vladimir Sirin, is best remembered for his controversial novel Lolita. His other works include the novel Pale Fire and his memoir, Speak, Memory. He was also an entomologist, specializing in lepidoptery. He also liked composing chess problems.
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 4 
Alexander Pushkin
(The Greatest Russian Poet and the Founder of Modern Russian Literature)
Alexander Pushkin
4
Birthdate: May 26, 1799
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 29, 1837
Legendary Russian playwright, poet, and novelist Alexander Pushkin is considered one of the most prominent figures of the Romantic era and of Russian literature. He is remembered for his poem Ode to Liberty, one of his works that led him to be exiled by Tsar Alexander I. 
 5 
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
(Novelist & Writer Best Known for His Work 'The Gulag Archipelago')
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
4
Birthdate: December 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kislovodsk, Russia
Died: August 3, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, and political prisoner. An outspoken critic of Communism and the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helped raise awareness of the Gulag, a government agency that oversaw forced labor camps set up in accordance with Vladimir Lenin's order. His non-fiction text The Gulag Archipelago was a highly influential work and sold millions of copies.

 6 
Nikolai Gogol
(Russian Novelist, Short Story Writer and Playwright)
Nikolai Gogol
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine
Died: March 4, 1852

Nikolai Gogol was a Ukrainian author who redefined Russian literature with his novels such as Dead Souls and his short stories such as The Overcoat and Diary of a Madman. Most of his works were influenced by Ukrainian folklore. He was typically fond of the grotesque as a literary element.

 7 
Maxim Gorky
(Russian Writer Best Known for His Works 'The Lower Depths', 'Mother', 'Chelkash' and 'Children of the Sun')
Maxim Gorky
4
Birthdate: March 28, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: June 18, 1936

Maxim Gorky was a writer and political activist. He is best remembered for founding the socialist realism literary method. Gorky, who was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature on five occasions, published several novels that were later adapted into plays, films, and operas. In 1938, Valery Zhelobinsky adapted Gorky's novel Mother into an opera.

 8 
Boris Pasternak
(Russian Poet & Novelist Who Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958)
Boris Pasternak
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 30, 1960

Son of an artist father and a pianist mother, Boris Pasternak initially wished to become a musician. He is best known for his novel Doctor Zhivago, set against backdrop of the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Communists forced him to decline the Nobel Prize, which his descendants later accepted.

 9 
Mikhail Bulgakov
(Novelist and Playwright Best Known for His Novel 'The Master and Margarita')
Mikhail Bulgakov
4
Birthdate: May 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: March 10, 1940

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian writer, playwright, and medical doctor best remembered for his work The Master and Margarita, a novel which has been acclaimed as one of the 20th century's masterpieces. Over the years, his works have inspired several other personalities, including Salman Rushdie and Mick Jagger.    

 10 
Ivan Turgenev
(Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet & Popularizer of Russian Literature in the West)
Ivan Turgenev
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1818
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oryol, Russia
Died: September 3, 1883

It is believed Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev was highly inspired by his dominant mother in his younger days and thus created strong female characters in his novels later. He is remembered for popularizing Russian literature and realism in the West. One of his most notable works was Father and Sons.

 11 
Mikhail Lermontov
(Former Romantic poet and author of the novel A Hero of Our Time)
Mikhail Lermontov
3
Birthdate: October 15, 1814
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 27, 1841

One of the most significant Russian romantic authors of the Golden Age of Russian Poetry, Mikhail Lermontov is remembered for his iconic novel A Hero of Our Time. His initial poems, such as Prisoner of the Caucasus, were highly Byronic. His writings laid the foundation for the Russian psychological novel.

 12 
Eduard Limonov
(Writer and Founder of 'National Bolshevik Party')
Eduard Limonov
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dzerzhinsk, Russia
Died: March 17, 2020

The firebrand National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov gained fame with his first novel, It's Me, Eddie, which contained explicit sexual imagery and obscene language, and was written while he was in literary exile in New York. He was also part of The Other Russia, a group of Putin opposers.

 13 
Lou Andreas-Salomé
(Russian Novelist, Essayist and Psychoanalyst)
Lou Andreas-Salomé
4
Birthdate: February 12, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 5, 1937

Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.

 14 
Ivan Bunin
(The First Russian Writer to Receive the Nobel Prize for Literature)
Ivan Bunin
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Voronezh, Russia
Died: November 8, 1953

Ivan Bunin was a Russian writer whose stories and poems are regarded as one of the richest collection of works in the Russian language. In 1933, Ivan Bunin became the first Russian writer to be honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. Subsequently, he donated 100,000 francs to a charity fund.

Leo Tolstoy bibliography
3
Birthdate: 1828 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: 1910 AD

Legendary Russian author Leo Tolstoy was one of the greatest novelists of the world. Best known for his realistic fiction and cult novels such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he had also penned plays such as The Power of Darkness and was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times.

 16 
Vasily Grossman
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berdychiv, Ukraine
Died: September 14, 1964

Russian author and journalist, Vasily Grossman, by training a chemical engineer, began writing fulltime at the age of twenty-five, eventually publishing several short stories and novels, including Life and Fate and Forever Flowing. Considered a threat, these works were later censured. A war correspondent during WWII, he was also one of the first journalists to write on Treblinka extermination camp.

 17 
Ilya Ehrenburg
3
Birthdate: January 26, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: August 31, 1967
 18 
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
(Writer Best Known for 'Babiyy Yar', a Political Poem)
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nizhneudinsk, Russia
Died: April 1, 2017

Russian author Yevgeny Yevtushenko, known for works such as Wild Berries and Bratsk Station, is also remembered for his advocacy of artistic freedom in Russian literature rather than a reliance on political overtones. Following the death of Stalin, he focused on using unadulterated language and lyrics with a personal touch.

 19 
Victor Pelevin
(One of the Most Interesting Writers to Have Come Out of Contemporary Russia)
Victor Pelevin
3
Birthdate: November 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Russian Little Booker Prize-winning author Victor Pelevin is known for his unique style of mingling pop culture and science fiction in his works. A qualified engineer, he worked as a journalist and a copywriter before he began writing. His works such as Omon Ra mirror the despair of the Russian youth.

 20 
Boris Akunin
(Writer of detective and historical fiction)
Boris Akunin
3
Birthdate: May 20, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Zestafoni, Georgia
 21 
Yevgeny Zamyatin
3
Birthdate: February 1, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lebedyan, Russia
Died: March 10, 1937
 22 
Mikhail Sholokhov
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1905
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Veshenskaya, Russia
Died: February 21, 1984
 23 
Sergei Dovlatov
(Writer, Journalist)
Sergei Dovlatov
3
Birthdate: September 3, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ufa, Russia
Died: August 24, 1990
 24 
Viktor Shklovsky
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1893
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 6, 1984
 25 
Nikolay Chernyshevsky
3
Birthdate: July 24, 1828
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saratov, Russia
Died: October 29, 1889
 26 
Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
(Writer Who Specialized in Science Fiction and Historical Novels)
Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
3
Birthdate: January 10, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pugachyov, Russia
Died: February 23, 1945

Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, also known as Comrade Count, initially tasted fame with the novel Nikita’s Childhood and then redefined the science-fiction, thriller, and historical novel genres. As part of the Extraordinary State Commission, he was the first to ascertain that the Nazis had used gas vans during World War II.

 27 
Alexandra Tolstaya
4
Birthdate: June 18, 1884
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
Died: September 26, 1979
 28 
Nikolai Leskov
(Writer Known for His Works 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk', 'The Cathedral Folk' & 'The Enchanted Wanderer')
Nikolai Leskov
2
Birthdate: February 16, 1831
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oryol qəzası, Russia
Died: March 5, 1895

Known for works such as Cathedral Folk and Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Nikolai Leskov enriched Russian literature with his short stories and novels that mirrored the burning social issues of his time. He had also worked as a journalist. Many of his works bear the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky.

 29 
Sergei Lukyanenko
(Science Fiction & Fantasy Author)
Sergei Lukyanenko
2
Birthdate: April 11, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Karatau, Kazakhstan

Author Sergei Lukyanenko is also a qualified psychotherapist and child psychiatrist, though he has premanently quit medicine for writing. Known for his gripping science-fiction and fantasy books such as Labyrinth of Reflections, he also redefined the genre of urban fantasy with the Night Watch series, which inspired a hit film.

 30 
Andrei Platonov
2
Birthdate: August 28, 1899
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Voronezh, Russia
Died: January 5, 1951
 31 
Bulat Okudzhava
2
Birthdate: May 9, 1924
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: June 12, 1997
 32 
Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy
(One of the Most Important 19th-Century Russian Historical Dramatist)
Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy
2
Birthdate: September 5, 1817
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: October 10, 1875

Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy was the second cousin of Leo Tolstoy and a gifted poet, playwright, novelist, and satirist, who often made use of historical themes. His iconic trilogy of historical dramas, consisting of The Death of Ivan the Terrible, Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich, and Tsar Boris, was widely acclaimed.

 33 
Nikolay Nekrasov
(Poet who Introduced Ternary Meters and the Technique of Dramatic Monologue into Russian Poetry)
Nikolay Nekrasov
2
Birthdate: December 10, 1821
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nemyriv, Ukraine
Died: January 8, 1878

Russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov established himself as a successful businessman before stepping into writing. He bought and developed the magazine Sovremennik, or The Contemporary. Most of his poems, such as Red-Nosed Frost, spoke about the misery of the peasant class. He also introduced the dramatic monologue to Russian literature.

 

 34 
Leonid Andreyev
(Playwright)
Leonid Andreyev
2
Birthdate: August 21, 1871
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oryol, Russia
Died: September 12, 1919
 35 
Lyudmila Ulitskaya
2
Birthdate: February 21, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Davlekanovo, Russia
 36 
Andrei Bely
(Novelist)
Andrei Bely
2
Birthdate: October 26, 1880
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 8, 1934
 37 
Sofia Kovalevskaya
(Mathematician)
Sofia Kovalevskaya
2
Birthdate: January 15, 1850
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 10, 1891
 38 
Nikolay Karamzin
2
Birthdate: December 12, 1766
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mikhaylovka, Russia
Died: June 3, 1826
 39 
Yulia Latynina
(Writer, Journalist)
Yulia Latynina
2
Birthdate: June 16, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
 40 
Nathalie Sarraute
(Writer, Lawyer)
Nathalie Sarraute
2
Birthdate: July 18, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ivanovo, Russia
Died: October 19, 1999
 41 
Vasily Aksyonov
(Russian Novelist)
Vasily Aksyonov
2
Birthdate: August 20, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kazan, Russia
Died: July 6, 2009

Vasily Aksyonov was born to parents who had been imprisoned for their connections with Trotskyists. The celebrated author of masterpieces such as The Burn and Generations of Winter, he was also a qualified doctor. His signature elements included fantasy, parody, and satire. He once also taught Russian literature in the US.

Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin
2
Birthdate: January 27, 1826
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Spas-Ugol, Russia
Died: May 10, 1889
 43 
Vladimir Voinovich
(Russian Writer Who is Considered as the "First Genuine Comic Writer" Produced by the Soviet System)
Vladimir Voinovich
2
Birthdate: September 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Died: July 27, 2018

Russian author Vladimir Voinovich was a strong dissident, known for his sharp satire in books such as The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin and Moscow 2042. His dissident activities got him removed from the Writers’ Union of the U.S.S.R. He was also stripped of his citizenship briefly.

 44 
Konstantin Simonov
2
Birthdate: November 28, 1915
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 28, 1979
 45 
Mikhail Zoshchenko
2
Birthdate: August 10, 1894
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 22, 1958
 46 
Nikolai Ostrovsky
2
Birthdate: September 29, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Viliya, Ukraine
Died: September 22, 1936
 47 
Aleksandr Kuprin
2
Birthdate: September 7, 1870
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Narovchat, Russia
Died: August 25, 1938
 48 
Alexander Grin
2
Birthdate: August 23, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Slobodskoy, Russia
Died: July 8, 1932
 49 
Fazil Iskander
2
Birthdate: March 6, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sokhumi, Abkhazia
Died: July 31, 2016
 50 
Alexander Radishchev
2
Birthdate: August 31, 1749
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: September 24, 1802