At the heart of The Brothers Karamazov is a murder mystery surrounding the homicide of a family patriarch, Fyodor Karamazov, and the role of his sons in the crime. The book is also a novel of ideas: Fedor Dostoevsky debates the existence of God, the role of religion in modern societies, and the consequences of class differences on the individual.
On its publication in 1881 readers were shocked by the controversial nature of the novel, in particular the frank discussions of religion and class division. Today, The Brothers Karamazov is considered one of the greatest novels in world literature; moreover, Dostoyevsky is renowned as one of the preeminent figures in Russian literature, along with such authors as Nikolai Gogol Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin. His work has influenced many important writers and thinkers of the twentieth century, such as Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, and Sigmund Freud.