As an avid reader who never has any time to read, I’ve belatedly discovered the joys of the audiobook. My commute to work has changed: goodbye talk radio, hello all the novels I’ve been neglecting. And it can feel quite jarring to drive around Johannesburg while the sounds of a fictional universe fill my car, the voices of narrators and characters completely at odds with the view through my windscreen. At the moment, for example, I’m listening to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Mock me if you will. It’s just one of those texts you have to get under your belt. And exploring the Russian literary canon seems appropriate at a time when the world’s attention is turned more positively than usual towards Moscow and St Petersburg. The Fifa World Cup is, as various commentators have noted, an exercise in wilful forgetting. We ignore human rights violations committed by the governments of countries whose football teams show onfield pluck and skill. We set aside the mafioso dealings of the organisati...

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