Anyone who has read Dostoevsky would be surprised to know about how this writer made his literary beginning. In At the Firing Squad: The Radical Works of a Young Dostoevsky, Matthew James Seidel looks at the books that came before the great writer emerged. His first novel called Poor Folk is about poverty and probably the first social novel of its time in Russia. The next novel of his that made a mark was The Double. The premise is interesting and he sets up the hallucinatory worlds of his subsequent characters.
This was about the time that Dostoevsky was arrested as he was part of a group called the Petrashevsky Circle. He clearly thought that he would be executed but it was a practical joke that the Tsar played sometimes, and the arrested men were spared, only to spend time in Siberia as punishment. Read this story if you want to know who Dostoevsky was before he created works like Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov that would immortalize him.