The Master and Margarita

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

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The Master and Margarita
432 pages; Penguin Classics
Daniel Radcliffe has to thank for introducing him to this satirical novel about Stalinist Russia, which Bulgakov wrote in secret from 1928 until just before his death in 1940, and which was finally published 26 years later. "I was reading Louis de Bernières's trilogy on Latin America and this book came up as something I might like, so I bought it," says Radcliffe. "It's now my favorite novel—it's just the greatest explosion of imagination, craziness, satire, humor, and heart." The fantastical work so captured Radcliffe that for his 21st birthday, he traveled to Russia to visit the author's apartment in Moscow. "There are passages that have become everyday Russian sayings. For instance, 'Manuscripts don't burn.' If it had ever come out that this book was being written, Bulgakov would likely have disappeared permanently. That phrase stands for the fact that nothing is more powerful or more indestructible than the written word."
— As told to Naomi Barr