It's not what I intend to say. What I mean is that if you are going to fictionalize the story, it's not that you need to be Russian, but you need to get your story straight. A second, and I think, minimal requirement, is that you don't underestimate the ability of westerners to grasp absurd, horrifying histories. You don't need to turn the stories into melodrama for westerners "to get it". Charles Spuford, who is British, wrote a great fictionalized treatment of Marxist economics as applied in the USSR and how it affected the lives of the people who lived through it. Philip Roth in "Prague Orgy" gets a lot right. These people are not the crazy, half-drunk, wearing-a-shapka engineer who shows up in Bruce Willis' space movies. That's Hollywood Russia for Idiots. Here's an example:
Europeans, including Russians, often characterize, in their own fiction, Americans as fat, lazy, sex-obsessed, unsubtle, and uncultured. People who visit Paris and eat only at McDonald's. British film routinely treats as a cartoon the "Yank" who shows up in the script. I can think of two or three examples off the top of my head of ridiculous representation of western life that show up in Soviet film. Only the most credulous would ever believe them to be truly representative of the US.
Benioff/Smith are doing this, just in reverse. I know a million Russians, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Poles, Lithuanians, Belorussians, Moldovans, Bulgarians - I don't meet them at all in '44' or 'Thieves'.
There are, of course, examples of Russian writers who take an extremely tendentious view of the US. But they're demagogues that nobody - relatively speaking - takes seriously. Russia will always love a circus. A circus will always have its share of clowns.
But which writers do they read and trust? Russians love among western writers Dreiser, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Updike, Vonnegut, and Paul Bowles, for example. They have only (relatively) recently been introduced to McCarthy and Pynchon, but they devour it. They love it. And sure, you look at this list, and all of these writers are critical of the American experience, but they're also among our best. I take great pride that in my culture (the USA) writers like this exist, that my culture can handle criticism, and that it invites it. It's part of the process, essential to it, right? On the other side, for a long LONG time, none of that kind of critical writing was allowed to be published in the USSR. But now it is. For our part, from our perspective, if we're going to write it too, we should get it right.
The reading habits of Russians educated in the USSR - and a lot of that was due to the lack of availability of other, more exciting, forms of entertainment - put our own to shame.
Ask anyone - anyone over 30 - here. Balzac, Ibsen, Hawthorne, Hugo, Hemingway, Conrad, Updike, Maupassant, Wilde, Flaubert, and on and on and on - they've read it. And their own - Chekhov, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bunin, Bulgakov, Nekrasov, Lermontov, Turgenev, and a hundred more and then add the Poets on top of that. Have you ever been to a poetry reading where a thousand people showed up? I have. This century. I'm told, though it was long ago, that Yevtushenko could fill a stadium. I have no reason to doubt it.
I've been here a long while, and I'm constantly confronted with things that never occurred to me before, things that are 'new'. I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but this place is nuanced like you can't believe. (though Smith & Benioff aren't helping you believe it.) This place is Shrek's "onion": you know, layers! The place is also, and has been, and shall be, as LeCarre put it so perfectly "a shambles" (LeCarre is another writer who gets a lot right), and - directly to my "mission" - this place's history is irrevocably tied to our own, especially so when we are considering Cold War related histories. We need to get it right. If they don't get it right when writing about us, tough. That's their problem. But we, the civilized, the humane, the superior creatures of a free society (is your sarcasm gauge working?), when writing fiction, writing poetry, writing criticism, writing history, we need to get it right. I don't think it's asking too much.