Jonathan Meades

Postmodernism in the USSR

Landscapes of Communism: A History through Buildings

By

Allen Lane 613pp £25 order from our bookshop

Here, once again, is everything his fans have come to expect from Owen Hatherley: curiosity, precision, disputatious rigour, a contempt for received ideas tempered by agnostic humility, the keenest eye, an openness to the unexpected, a phenomenal amount of knowledge and an indifference to the paltry virtue of consistency.

And here, for the first time, is a new ingredient: a woman. In these tireless reports of wandering through the cities of what was once the (notably heterogeneous) Soviet bloc, this flâneur is accompanied by Agata Pyzik, whose own book Poor but Sexy: Culture Clashes in Europe East and West, composed in English, both puts monoglots to shame and prompts a reappraisal of what the populace of those cities expected after 1989. Certain of the itineraries are determined by her and, I suspect, followed by him with an initial reluctance. We are vouchsafed glimpses of their endlessly peripatetic life together and their diet of milk bar pirozhki and architectural taxonomy. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,
    • 'Readers have no more power to predict where the next story is going to take them than the prisoners had to determi… ,
    • 'Ho was no Soviet or Chinese puppet. He was a nationalist first and foremost. Had the Americans just realised this.… ,