Where Bears Roam the Streets

Long story short: I started going to Russia in 1999. On my first trip there I met a Perestroika-generation bartender named Igor who became one of my closest friends. I decided to try and tell the story of contemporary Russia through his story–as well the stories of lots of other Russians of the new generation: a women’s rights activist, radical leftists, a young human rights lawyer, Chechen war vets, and others…The few years I spent working on this–Igor and I traveled across much of the country together talking to people and talking to each other–are some of the best of my life. The title is meant to be taken as a joke since it’s one of many cliches that Westerners have about Russia and the idea of the book is to get past the cliches to something resembling the real thing.

Entropy magazine Best of 2015: Non-Fiction Books!


“Jeff Parker’s new book is as off-kilter as a Kurt Vonnegut novel, and wholly absorbing.” -Brian Bethune of Maclean’s

Where Bears Roam the Streets is a kind of Fear and Loathing on the Trans-Siberian Railroad with a profane barman standing in for the profane attorney (naturally)…A funny and illuminating portrait of two men in crisis and a country that keeps changing and keeps staying exactly the same.” -Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story

“This is the smartest, funniest, most honest book about Russia I’ve read since Elif Batuman’s The Possessed. Parker’s hero, or anti-hero, or hero–the rambunctious, alienated, chicken-heart-eating Igor–is unlike anyone you’ll meet in the literature on Russia or any other country. But his story is the story of Russia over the last twenty years, and Parker’s book tells it in a way that ordinary journalism never will.” -Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

“Parker goes deep and asks the hard questions. Together with his compatriot Igor — a true poet savant of the Russian Condition — Parker crisscrosses the country, embracing paradox wherever he goes. His encounters with crusading fashionista journalists, Chechen-vet paintball warriors, and basically the entire phylum of drunkards, will pare your nerve endings like a cucumber. I never wanted this book to end, I honest-to-God loved it so much.” – -Alina Simone, author of You Must Go and Win

“Parker gets down and dirty with the real Russia. There is no gloss and shine here but simply and quite beautifully the stark meaning of today in a place usually beyond comprehension. Read this book if you’d like to know the reality of the Russian street. It’s a great book.” – -Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

Publisher Page:

Where Bears Roam the Streets at Harper Collins


How Igor Stayed Out of the Army at n+1

Night Swimming in St. Petersburg at The Walrus

Igor’s Escape to the UK at St. Petersburg Review

With a Light Steam at The Walrus




Numero Cinq magazine

Russia Reviewed

Maple Tree Literary Supplement

Matrix magazine


WHERE BEARS ROAM THE STREETS by Jeff Parker – Book Trailer from Red 14 Films on Vimeo.