And now - in English: What the heck is going on here?

That's history. And “Alice in Wonderland”

Dodo Magic Bookroom in Moscow, is five years old. They’re owned and run by six avid readers and professionals of publishing, including Shashi Martynova, a Russian translator who has put what she calls her whole life energy into the world of books. She believes in the power of the word to educate, as well as entertain, and she wants to ensure that books cross language barriers to reach as many people as possible—to free their minds, and make them laugh. For instance, Dodo is also a publishing house, and they’ve published the only book on Monty Python in the Russian language.

“It all began fifteen years ago,” Shashi says, “When I first prepared a very thick encyclopedia for print professionally. Some people in Russia say it’s quite difficult to get into the publishing industry, but once you’re in, it’s impossible to get out again. It captures you somehow.

“So, my friends set up a publishing house, and I happily ran it for them for six years. However, in 2009, I felt as though I really needed to go to the other side—to the post-production side. I wanted to see what happened there. I couldn’t shake the image and history of Shakespeare and Company out of my brain, and Magma Books too. I had to do it myself. There is also something about Lewis Carroll that encouraged me to make the change. He’s got a bit of a cult here in Russia, and a huge artistic following. Something about escape, new worlds and crazy imagination. There are so many different translations and illustrated editions of Alice here. Pretty much all of my generation in Russia grew up on it. So, I wanted to create a bookshop somewhat in its image. The Dodo in our shop name is from Alice in Wonderland and it’s also a play on words to jokingly symbolise the book industry in general—paperback books very much live on, despite what others might say.

“My plan was to open a type of bookshop that doesn’t really exist in Russia: a non-serious, but playfully profound, bookshop. Because Russians are generally damn-serious people; you can’t really fool around being Russian. Yet we wanted to try because, after all, reading is like a fun drug— only safe, legal and cheap!

“So, that’s what we did. We started off as one bookshop, and now we’re five bookshops (we’ve opened one a year across the city since starting). Each bookshop is pretty tiny, about eighty square metres, and not more than 10,000 books per place. We call our bookshops places where you can buy fairy tales for any age: Tolkien, Lewis and Gaiman... and pretty much anything legendary from world literature, stories with a twist, anything picturesque and weird.

“One of our bookshops is inside a cinema—there we have books on screenplays and visual art. Another one is in a huge cultural centre for children, so there we have more of literature on parenting and children’s arts and crafts, and we have two small bookshops within other department stores. The latter are to help keep our other stores open, and to spread the name of our brand.

“We manage to enjoy this survival trip. We do a lot of educational work, e.g. lectures and seminars on anything from literary studies to theory of communication, and we do city games, too—quests based on literature. This works really well with our customers, especially with youngsters.

“Bookselling is not about money; we need money to keep doing it, but it’s not our driving force; it’s not our passion. Post-Soviet publishing and bookselling is only twenty something years old here, so us being five years old is really cool to us. Our passion is in the word, the power of the word, its freedom and the ability of stories to take us to other places. To free our minds. To live as many lives at once, as the speed of mindful reading allows. That is what excites me, and everyone else who works here, and that is what encourages us to keep doing what we do.”

From “The Bookshop Book” (2014) by Jen Campbell

Whodunit?

There are six of us, owners of Magic Bookrooms, alphabetically: Alexander Gavrilov (literary observer and book connoisseur), Andrey Lupandin (avid reader and advertisement guru), Shashi Martynova (translator, editor, publisher), Natalia Sanina (literary agent matriarch), Maria Sarycheva (reading and cooking maestro), and Michael Shtern (audio-publisher and toys expert).

But of course we wouldn't be breathing without the gang of crazy booklovers who work with us every day in every Dodo-place—our guys, our brave and damn smart Dodos-residents, as well as numerous part-time volunteers. About a dozen fantastic artists helps us to be bright, colorful and funny, especially Maria Yuganova, our chief of everything typically Dodo-visual, and Tom who is our webboss, he's been there to make us seen and heard online since the very beginning.

You, and us, and everyone we know

We are all the citizens of Earth here, we enjoy freedom of speech, being ourselves and are there to support you enjoying your reader's self in every possible way. And yes, we do have art and literature activities for non-Russian speakers and are open to any ideas.

Made in Dodo Magic Bookroom

The Best of Myles, Flann O'Brien — June, 2016

Puckoon, by Spike Milligan — September, 2015

Martin Doesn't Cry, by Linor Goralik — June, 2015

Go the F*ck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortez — October, 2014

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores, More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores, by Jen Campbell — May, 2014

This is called so: Miniature prose, by Linor Goralik — May, 2014

The Illustrated Book of Bad Argument, by Ali Almossawi — November, 2013

Rain on the River: Selected Poems and Short Prose, by Jim Dodge — October, 2012

The Pythons Autobiography by The Pythons, by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin — October, 2011

Tales About Fish, Hare, Humans and Non-Humans, by Boris Khudimov — April, 2011

Freakipedia, by Gila Loran — October, 2010

Sum: 40 Tales of the Afterlife — November, 2009

What, where, when?

There are five Dodo-places in Moscow currently:

  • Dodo@Chertkov House: Myasnitskaya str., 7-2, 1st floor (Lubyanka or Kitay-gorod metro), opened 11 am to 9 pm daily
  • Dodo@ZIL: Vostochnaya str., 4, bld 1, inside ZIL Culture Center (Avtozavodskaya metro), opened 11:30 am to 9:30 pm daily
  • Dodo@Azov: Azovskaya str., 24, bld 3, inside Azovski dept store (Sevastopolskaya metro), opened 10 am to 10 pm daily
  • Dodo@Tsaritsyno: Dolskaya str., 1, inside Tsaritsyno park museum (Tsaritsyno metro), opened 11 am to 8 pm daily

“Contains obscene swearing” (sic!) DodoProject

As you perhaps know, our government is extremely generous and inventive when it comes to legislative initiatives. We barely keep pace with these guys, and every day there's something breathtaking they conjure for all of us here to thoroughly and fundamentally enjoy. They really want us to appreciate every freedom we have deeply and never take it for granted, as it can be taken away any second. Life is full of surprises, and Russia is the motherland of them. All of them.

So, above all the mesmerizing acts we've seen in past years, we now are about to have yet another magic trick, that is no foul language can be uttered in books, theatre, movies etc, effective 1st of July, 2014. And as per books, we all have to put those that contain certain words in cellophane now and label it with a sticker saying CONTAINS OBSCENE SWEARING. Really, we swear (obscenely), check it out anywhere in the net. So about 20 per cent of all fruits of culture are about to be banned from our lives, which indeed would make it pure as snow in a November morning, and all the country will, from the 1st of July on, live pristinely ever after.

We plan to show our utmost and absolute civil obedience to this new legislation and we've invited about a dozen brilliant artists to make designs of this sticker for us, so anyone can protect him/herself from the degrading effects of 4-letter-words, sticking them everywhere around, incl. private libraries at home, laptops, city fences and even everybody's own foreheads, all of which contain foul words aplenty.

You can collect your sticker from Dodo-places for free or download them right away:

Anastasia Kratovich,
Minsk

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Anastasia Kratovich,
Minsk

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Shashi Martynova,
Moscow

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strongowski,
Zhitomir

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Kim (Kirk Nielsen),
Paris

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Maria Yuganova,
Moscow

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Tatiana Zadorozhnyaya,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Tatiana Zadorozhnyaya,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Aeya Mordyakova,
Moscow

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Tatiana Zadorozhnyaya,
Moscow

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Vladimir Kamaev,
Saint-Petersburg

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