Friday, March 20, 2009

International Booker, Russian Literature Week, Figes Update

A few news items for a chilly Friday: 

Liudmila Ulitskaya is one of 14 contenders for the 2009 Man Booker International Prize. Other nominees are Peter Carey, Evan S. Connell, Mahasweta Devi, E.L. Doctrow, James Kelman, Mario Vargas Llosa, Arnost Lustig, Alice Munro, V.S. Naipaul, Joyce Carol Oates, Antonio Tabucchi, Ngugi Wa Thiong’O, and Dubravka Ugresic.

Judges are Jane Smiley (chair), Amit Chaudhuri, and Andrei Kurkov. Kurkov writes in Russian, lives in Ukraine, and seems to be far better known in Europe than in the United States. I have yet to read him, but one of these days I will find a hard copy of his Смерть постороннего (Death and the Penguin). And read it.

Speaking of Europe, I envy those of you in the U.K. who can attend the “Books from Russia” Russian Literature Week events in April! Dmitrii Bykov, Vladimir Makanin, Ol’ga Slavnikova, and Mikhail Shishkin are among the writers who will take part in discussions and seminar. Academia Rossica will also announce finalists for its Rossica Prize for translation.

Finally, I listened today to last week’s “Культурный шок (“Culture Shock”) show on Echo of Moscow radio. One topic of discussion was the decision of publishing house Atticus not to publish the Russian-language translation of Orlando Figes’s The Whisperers (the story). Sergei Parkhomenko, a guest on the show, has been involved in the translation project and swears the book will eventually appear in Russian. The Dinastiia Foundation, which supports publication of educational and scientific books, is also part of the project.

Ulitskaya on Amazon
Kurkov on Amazon
Figes on Amazon


  1. You must find a copy of Kurkov's Penguin books, they are fantastic. Like you said, he is better known in Europe (I actually read his books in French, I've yet to see a US bookstore that stocks him in English) but they are really fantastic.

    I read them which traveling by train from Krakow, to Przymysl to Lviv to Kiev and it felt very appropriate!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Coree. Train trips are such a great opportunity to read!

    The more I hear about Kurkov, the more curious I get... I'm going to have to get on this soon!