Monday, September 28, 2009

Better than Basketball: Prokhorov’s НОС (Nose) Literary Award

Yesterday’s New York Times included “Brooklyn, Meet Your Oligarch,” an article about Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who, as I understand things, wants to become majority owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team and fund half a new arena in Brooklyn.

Well, somewhere in between noting (again) that Prokhorov is “very tall” and mentioning (again) those accusations about hi-jinks at Courchevel, the Times neglected to mention the best part of the Prokhorov story. The man also has a foundation that started a rather unusual-sounding literary award. How many American sports team owners can say that?

The award is called НОС, short for Новая словесность… NOSE, for New Literature. The Mikhail Prokhorov Fund Web site writes that it established the annual prize in 2009 to recognize the 200th anniversary of Nikolai Gogol’s birth. Hence the nose. The award is intended “для выявления и поддержки новых трендов в современной художественной словесности на русском языке” – “for exposing and supporting new trends in contemporary fiction in the Russian language.”

The words “открытость процесса принятия решений” appear in bold on the NOSE page to emphasize the intent to foster “openness in the decision-making process.” Will this be the first literary prize where the jury will discuss choices of finalists and winners in talk show format? I bet it will.

Since this is the 21st century, there is also online voting. As of this moment, two books lead long list contenders by a large margin: Vadim Demidov’s Сержант Пеппер, живы твои сыновья! (Sergeant Pepper, Your Sons Are Alive!), with 450 points, and Serafim’s Записки ангела (Notes of an Angel), with 452 points. I am not familiar with either, and my casual Googling indicates that neither book has much of an Internet trail but Demidov writes on his band’s site that Zakhar Prilepin nominated his book, and the angels seem to have an Internet voting campaign going.

Sergeant Pepper and the Angel lead a pile of other books I’ve never heard of plus big names including: Viktor Pelevin’s П5(P5), Zakhar Prilepin’s Ботинки, полные горячей водкой (Boots Filled with Hot Vodka) (title story), Aleksandr Terekhov’s Каменный мост (Stone Bridge), Vladimir Sorokin’s Сахарный Кремль (The Sugar Kremlin), and Andrei Gelasimov’s Степные боги (Steppe Gods) (previous post), among others. The 30-book long list is available here.

1 comment:

  1. It serafimm is an author of book of "Записки ангела" ("Message of angel"). I by chance saw your comment about a bonus NOSE. If want - can send my book in Russian language:) On the internet or in a paper kind. Into English language me, alas, did not yet translate. I also do not talk in English.
    123sd (@)