"Dead souls" (1842) is a book written by an important Russian author, Nikolai Gogol, that criticizes the Russian society of his time by means of a well-told satire.
The main character of "Dead souls" is Chichikov, a man that wants to be rich, and turns into a con man in order to achieve that objective. His stratagem is simple, yet strange: he will buy "dead souls" from landowners, and then mortage them in order to earn a lot of money. That was possible because in pre 1861 Russia, landowners owned serfs ("souls") that helped to farm the land, and that could be bought, sold or mortgaged whenever the owners felt the need to do so. The "dead souls" were serfs that had already died, but that were still listed as living in property registers.
Will Chichikov be able to buy "dead souls" at a low price and then mortgage them, turning into a rich landowner? Or will his proposal seem so outlandish to others that he won't be able to convince them that he is not joking? You will find answers to those questions in this book, along with beautiful (albeit extremely long) descriptions of the Russian scenery.
A good book club book, or just a good book for some thoughtful reading, especially for insights into the Russia of that time.