by Andrew D. Kaufman
Riverhead Books, 2021
In The Gambler Wife Kaufman presents a fantastic analysis of Dostoevsky’s stenographer turned wife, turned ultimate savior, Anna Snitkin. From her first days working for the great Russian writer to her last years fighting for the preservation of his legacy, Anna Dostoevskaya was a woman of immense fortitude, intelligence, and grace.
During Dostoevsky’s darker years, often spent betting away the family’s money on the green felt tables of German roulette houses and casinos, Anna was forced to find ways to keep the family afloat, and her husband out of debtors prison upon return to his native land. Born with an incredible inclination towards business and enterprise, as well as harboring a strong passion for independence, Anna was often the one who pushed Dostoevsky in the right direction when it came to his business dealing, saving him, more than once, from misleading, or even disastrous contract deals with publishing houses.
Anna also became the first woman to start a publishing house of her own and became the first female in Russia to own such an enterprise. Everything he knows about Dostoevsky, and the fact that we even still have access to his works, is all because of his wife Anna. She fought for the preservation of his name and works, as well as for the ability for the copyright to be kept in the family to ensure his works continued publication and distribution. A fabulous book, and one that any reader of Dostoevsky must not pass up on.