Mikhail Bulgakov died 66 years ago today (March 10, 1940) in Moscow at the age of 48 from an inherited kidney disorder. He is the first Russian writer that I read willingly - as opposed to being required reading.
My first Bulgakov novel was Собачье сердце (Heart of a Dog) and still remains my personal favorite. I realize that saying Heart of a Dog is my favorite - is akin to sacrilege among Russian fans, to whom Мастер и Маргарита (Master and Margarita) is undoubtedly his most popular and reknown novel. His combination of science fiction, fantasy, and social commentary reminds me of another favorite author, Philip K. Dick (although Bulgakov is a much more clear and biting social commentator).
As these fans well know, Master and Margarita was almost not published ... appearing in samizdat (clandestine publications passed among citizens) and then in censored, serial form in Moskva journal. It was published almost 30 years after his death, proving that "Рукописи не горят" (manuscripts don't burn).
The recent television mini-series of the Master and Margarita was a huge success, and from what I read, sales of his book soared due to the movies popularity. There had been other attempts at making the book a movie, but from all I heard, this one was the best (I was only able to catch parts of it on television myself). I'd love to be able to get it on DVD to add to my growing Russian film collection.
Mikhail Bulgakov is buried in Novo-Devichy Cemetery in Moscow.