Mikhail Shishkin is one of the most celebrated living Russian novelists and the only author to have won all three major Russian literary prizes. All his books have been adapted for the stage in Russia and they have been translated into 30 languages.
In March 2023 he came to Intelligence Squared to discuss his new book My Russia: War or Peace? which is both a historical and a personal view of this troubled and conflicted country. In conversation with historian Victor Sebastyen Shishkin traced the roots of Russia’s problems, from Kievan Rus via the Grand Duchy of Moscow, empire, revolution and the Cold War to the now thirty-year-old Russian Federation. He explored the uneasy relationship between the Russian state and its citizens, and set out his view that there are really two Russian peoples: the disillusioned and disaffected, who suffer from what he calls a slave mentality, and those who embrace so-called European values and try to stand up to oppression. And he addressed the most vital question of all: Will Russia continue its vicious circle of upheaval and autocracy, or will its people find a way out of history?