Wednesday, March 11, 2009

National Bestseller 2009 Long List

I get a kick out of the National Bestseller awards: this is the prize that invites occasional jury members who aren’t writers, publishers, or critics. This year’s big jury is lots of literary people plus a psychoanalyst and a ballerina. And why not? Lots of us are good readers.

Anyway, the good people of the Natsbest issued a long list of nominees (plus their nominators), and the term “long list” certainly applies: according to, it has 57 books. I’ll trust their number though I wonder about duplications...

This list is a little unusual for me because I’ve actually read one of the books: Vladimir Makanin’s Асан (Asan). I don’t mean to be a bad sport, but, honestly, I think the Big Book prize is enough for Asan (previous post that shows why).

Here are some of the other nominees:

Leonid Iuzefovich for Журавли и карлики (Cranes and Dwarfs) (a review). Iuzefovich won the first Natsbest prize in 2001 for Князь ветра (Prince of the Wind) and received several nominations this year for the new book.

Andrei Turgenev for Чтобы Бог тебя разорвал изнутри на куски (a tough one to translate and contemplate but… Let God Tear You to Pieces from the Inside). This unwieldy title won multiple nominations, too. (A review.)

Boris Minaev for Психолог (The Psychologist). Ditto on multiple nominations.

Mikhail Elizarov, last year’s Booker winner, for a new book, Кубики (Blocks [childrens building blocks]).

Il’ia Boiashov, a past Natsbest winner, for Танкист, или "Белый тигр" (The Tank Driver or "White Tiger"), which was nominated for last year’s Big Book and Booker. 

Andrei Gelasimov for Степные боги (Steppe Gods). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some of Gelasimov’s other writing. (past post)

Publisher Aleksandr Ivanov nominated German Sadulaev’s Таблетка (The Tablet), another nominee that was on last year’s Booker short list. (Here it is, for easy reference and links to things Sadulaev.)

I mention Aleksandr Ivanov, head of Ad Marginem publishing house, for a reason: Echo of Moscow’s “Book Casino” show for March 1, 2009, featured Ivanov and Zakhar Prilepin, last year’s National Bestseller winner, for Грех (Sin), which I thought was very, very good. (Read why here.)

The show, archived here, was lots of fun to listen to. Ivanov and Prilepin discuss Sadulaev (who Ivanov thinks will be a literary star) and other contemporary writers, teaching of classics, and much more. I highly recommend “Книжное казино” to Russian speakers who love books.


  1. Кубики (Cubes)

    Isn't кубики usually '(children's) blocks'?

  2. Yes, you're absolutely right, Languagehat, it very often is blocks... Oddly, I remember hearing the word кубики most in ads for bouillon cubes -- that was Russia in the '90s! -- but it's used for all sorts of other things, too, like ice and even the Rubik's Cube. I've checked a few reviews and blogs, and haven't yet found anything definitive indicating which meaning "кубики" has in (or to?) the title story of this collection. Alas!

  3. Elizarov's books including Кубики are available here:

  4. Okay, after clicking through to the story "Кубики"... "Blocks" it is!