My previous encounters with Fyodor have been through trying to read The Brothers Karamazov and aborting. I'm interested in him because he is recommended by Eugene Peterson, and that kind of recommendation gets my interest.
I actually loved this book, even though it's a bit hard to follow in places because of it's deliberately meandering and unstructured structure and is unremittingly grim in others. It is a fictionalised account of Dostoyevsky's own time spent in a Siberian prison before he became a writer for political dissent. Although it is one of his lesser known works, House of the Dead is noticable for its observations, particularly on the character and worldview of the convicts (which can be applied into our own culture), it's honesty, but also the life which Dostoyevsky manages to capture in his language. I would imagine that is in part due to the job of translation made by David McDuff. You can read the first few pages of it here.
So, now the plan is that I'm going to spend the run up to easter with my copy of the new Eugene Peterson, as well as perhaps a bit of Shakespeare, before spending the spring immersed in the world of James Joyce. Hopefully, I'll survive all that in good enough shape to revisit some more Dostoyevsky in the summer.