Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Thankful for Books, Part 2

Continuing my “grateful for books” series and inspired by the amazingly generous giveaway from an absolutely fabulous sci-fi author Beth Revis, here is the ONE book that probably made the biggest difference in my life.

Ready for it?

It’s a novel written in the 1930s, once burned, and barely completed before the author’s death in 1940, but only published posthumously in the late 1960s; it is one of the most outrageously unique stories of all time… my beloved . . . my crazy . . . my favorite …

“MASTER AND MARGARITA” by Mikhail Bulgakov.

The devil visits Moscow under the guise of having a performance contract with the city circus. (And don’t automatically assume the devil is the bad guy. Though the Moscow bureaucrats certainly would say so.) Remember too, that the Soviet Union prided itself for its atheism. Do you now see how this story wouldn’t go over too well in its motherland during the oppressive 1930s?

Here is what else happens in the story:

A rich and beautiful, but miserable woman who is in love with a poor scorned, close-to-crazy writer leaves her husband, and with the help of the aforementioned devil, becomes a witch and runs away with her lover (the writer).

These little summaries are just scratching the surface. The book takes a reader on a wild ride that features the mundane (but hilarious) existence of idiotic bureaucrats and a re-told story of Jesus Christ’s last days (a story that imagines Jesus very differently from the blue-eyed guy we’re all used to).

“Master and Margarita” is a book of love and trickery, the good and the bad forces within us playing together to create what we are.

I first picked up this story when I was 13 years old. I could see where some American readers might think I was way too young then for such a read — for one thing, there is nudity in the story (though no sex!). There is some violence and of course, adultery, and God save me, the book forces you to actually . . . gasp . . . think deeply and question the biggest issues that humans face, such as love, good and evil.

Throughout adolescence and adulthood, I have been reading it the way my son reads the Harry Potter series – over and over and over and OVER don’t ask me how many times. I am reading it still. Sometimes I think my life is one small tribute to that book. My second manuscript, the troubled fantasy some of you might have been reading a bit about on this blog, is based in the same scary time period and the same confusing place as Bulgakov’s masterpiece — the 1930s Soviet Union. My manuscript (which is resting at this moment 🙂 ) is part historical fiction, part fantasy; this book is part fantasy, part contemporary fiction. Yes, he actually witnessed those absurd, hilarious times, he actually became a victim of those restricted times, when a voice like his could not possibly be allowed into the chorus of praise that was Soviet literature.

If any of you are brave enough to venture into the nutty world of “Master and Margarita,” I hope you give this book a try sometime. If you are an adventurous, open-minded soul who likes to ponder what it really means to be a good person, I think you will be richly rewarded!

I know I have been.


November 11, 2011 - Posted by | Book Impressions | , ,


  1. This sounds really really different. I have to track it down 🙂

    Comment by Sarah Pearson | November 11, 2011 | Reply

  2. Different? Um, yeah. You got that right! I hope you do — track it down. Then you can brag at parties about having read this funky classic piece of 20th century Russian literature 🙂

    Comment by Katia Raina | November 11, 2011 | Reply

  3. I’ve heard of this book, but never read it. Sounds fascinating, Katia! I like that you picked it up when you were 13 and that you still re-read it.

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | November 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Joanne! Every time I read it, I get something new out of it. It’s one of those books. In fact, talking about it now with you guys makes me want to re-read it again! One problem with that — so many new books to catch up on!

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 12, 2011 | Reply

  4. Interesting! It’s always kind of melancholy, though, to see great works of literature that only become successful after the death of the author. “Confederacy of Dunces” is of course a prime example of this.

    Comment by storymultiverse | November 12, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, bittersweet, for sure. He did have other books/stories published in his lifetime, still this one was his real masterpiece. In that way, at least it was fitting that he wrote it at the end of his life. Don’t know how he could have possibly topped that one!

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 12, 2011 | Reply

  5. You’ve sold me on this book. I just downloaded the Kindle version.

    There are a few books I read over and over again. It’s interesting how a book captures us so completely that we read it multiple times.

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | November 12, 2011 | Reply

    • OMG, Medeia, really? I am flattered! Please let me know how you like it. Really. I’d love to hear what you think!!

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 12, 2011 | Reply

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