A Spy Novelist in Russia

Category: Featured

Earlier this month, author Charles Cumming was invited on a trip to Russia, organized by the British Council, as part of the 2014 ‘UK-Russia Year of Culture’ programme. They stayed in Moscow and Tarusa, visiting some absolutely incredible places – Tolstoy’s house at Yasnaya Polyana, Chekov’s country estate, the Kremlin – and soaking up the local culture (and, we assume, a sensible amount of vodka).

In case you didn’t catch Charles’s live tweets from Russia, we’ve provided a recap below. And if you want to see more of his accomplished photography, head on over to his facebook page ( to get a peek inside the Grand Kremlin Palace, see close-ups of Chekov’s writing desk, and James Bond’s swimming trunks!

Charles Cumming @CharlesCumming · Sep 7

Inside the Grand Kremlin Palace on Saturday afternoon pic.twitter.com/ID9F7PjpaE

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 Charles Cumming @CharlesCumming · Sep 8

At Kim Philby’s grave in Kuntsevo cemetery @StMartinsPress @HarperFiction #BritishCouncil #Moscow2014 @BenMacintyre1 pic.twitter.com/TBQAbrNDz9

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(If you have read Charles’s novel, The Trinity Six, you’ll appreciate this photo of him standing by Kim Philby’s grave.)

Charles Cumming @CharlesCumming · Sep 9

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The room in which he wrote War & Peace #Tolstoy #BritishCouncil pic.twitter.com/FYqMNw9ZmE

Alex von Tunzelmann @alexvtunzelmann · Sep 8

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UK authors visit Anton Chekhov’s house. The only one tall enough to ring Chekhov’s lunch bell is @CharlesC umming. pic.twitter.com/2HrHAYw70T

 

Charles Cumming @CharlesCumming · Sep 11

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Chess players in Gorky Park. The man in the cap beat me in 18 moves

 

Charles Cumming @CharlesCumming · Sep 9

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Tolstoy’s grave in the forest at Yasnaya Polyana pic.twitter.com/aByJLbiNRQ

 

Alex von Tunzelmann @alexvtunzelmann · Sep 8

breakfast pic

The most anguish-inducing breakfast I have ever seen. Welcome to rural Russia! @Tussymarx @CharlesCumming pic.twitter.com/oiyuevI6qn

 

Charles Cumming’s latest novel is A Colder War. You can follow him on twitter here and find him on facebook here 

A Colder War

The Challenge of Writing International Thrillers

Category: News

073187-FC50 My first two novels, The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle are set mainly in the cities of their titles. I decided to write them because I’ve always enjoyed travelling, seeing other cultures and trying to understand what make them tick.

The Istanbul Puzzle was easier to write because I have been there about a dozen times. What struck me most about the city was how different it was from my preconceptions. We don’t see much in the media about Istanbul, even these days. Whatever we do see is usually about football hooligans or bomb attacks, and it’s usually quite negative.

I had never, for instance, heard anything about Hagia Sophia, the symbol of Istanbul and one of the greatest buildings in the world. What attracted me to Hagia Sopia were the mysteries that still surround it. One mystery I explore in The Istanbul Puzzle is what is underneath it. There have been few underground excavations at Hagia Sophia.

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