As you can imagine there are a few places you can go online to get pointers on Russian literature. Most of the greats are household names but it helps to be able to place authors in some sort of political and historical context.
The mistake to make is to assume that it's only the stuff written since 1917 that contains elements of turbulence and commentary about life under a repressive regime. Life under the Tsar was no picnic with people pegged very firmly into their positions in society. Visitors to Russia in the 18th century commented on how Russians abroad were so talkative but back home watched what they said. Not quite Stalin but not freedom either.
Anyway here are some good places to head for some ideas on Russian literature:
way to Russia is a travel guide which has a decent literature section
SovLit.com has a lot of information on more contemporary writers which can be helpful
Russian Literature is a guide not just to prose but also poetry
There are of course numerous author sites but will post some of those as I get through the books this month.