This week Lilah speaks with author Elif Batuman about rethinking Russian literature given Russia’s war in Ukraine. Since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022, cultural institutions have grappled with what to do about Russian artists and works of art. Should they be banned if we want to support Ukraine? Elif talks us through the literary dimension of the debate. And she says go ahead, read the Russian classics. But learn about the history and culture of the time as you’re doing it. Then, FT music critic Arwa Haider comes on to talk Lilah through recent trends in music: from the resurgence of pop punk to the loss of the superstar.

Want to say hi? We love hearing from you. Email us at We’re on Twitter @ftweekendpod, and Lilah is on Instagram and Twitter @lilahrap.

Links and mentions from the episode:

–Elif Batuman’s essay on reading Russian literature in the shadow of the war in Ukraine:

–Elif wrote the bestselling novels The Idiot and Either/Or. Here’s our first conversation with her, about Either/Or:

–Mary Elise Sarotte on Putin’s misuse of history:

–An essay Elif recommends by Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko’s on the same topic:

–You can find Arwa Haider’s FT music reviews here:

–Arwa is on Twitter at @ArwaHaider


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Original music by Metaphor Music. Mixing and sound design by Breen Turner and Sam Giovinco. Copyright for additional music this week: Geffen-Interscope Records; Warner Music Group; Saddle Creek Records; Sony Music Entertainment; Rimas Entertainment

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