One of my favorite contemporary Russian writers is Tatyana Tolstaya. She also has a talk show on Russian television which my wife enjoys very much. I think she is a distant relation of Tolstoy, not that she promotes the claim. She has written several books, and my favorite is Pushkin's Children, a collection of essays and book reviews where she explores the enigmatic "Russian Soul," while looking at the modern political situation in Russia. She looks both inside and outside her country in the way Russia is presented. Not as personal or deep as Pamuk's classic Instanbul, but very satisfying nonetheless.
She was pretty tough on Mother Russia in this book. As Richard Eder noted in the review that is linked, she didn't spare anyone, not least of all, Gorbacev, who became such a darling of the West. She also talks about the unusual position women find themselves in Russia, having assumed many of the high education jobs and positions in society, but getting little of the respect that goes along with these roles. Great book for those looking for an intimate view of life in 21st century Russia.