Saturday, March 6, 2010

New York Times Article about Elena Chizhova

Today’s New York Times included an article – Ellen Barry’s “A Writer Invites Russia to Engage Its Painful Past” – about Yelena Chizhova, who won the 2009 Russian Booker Prize for the short novel Время женщин (A Time of Women). I wrote a bit about the award and novel here. It appears that the novel is still not available in book form, though it’s online here. I do not know of any English-language translations of Chizhova’s work.

A Time of Women arose out of Chizhova’s memories of hearing her mother and grandmother speak about the blockade of Leningrad. Chizhova believes the “the vast majority” of Russians aren’t very interested in Russia’s Soviet past. Chizhova says: “They do not have the feeling that history continues. It seems to them that in the 1990s, we just started over. As if we were all born then.” I saw the first stages of this phenomenon when I visited and lived in Russia during 1988-1998. What stands out most is several people telling me they believed Solzhenitsyn’s writings about prison camps were already irrelevant.

Still, Barry notes that “there is no question that the past is exerting a pull on Russian art.” Two other big 2009 literary prize winners also take place in the past: Andrei Gelasimov’s Степные боги (Steppe Gods) is set in 1945 (previous post), and Leonid Yuzefovich’s Журавли и карлики (Cranes and Dwarfs or Cranes and Pygmies) takes place during several centuries (previous post).

Barry references an article about the 2009 Booker short list by Elena Dyakova – it’s available (in Russian) here.


  1. Hi, do you have any recommendations on how one might go about obtaining a copy of Vremya Zhenshchin? Thanks

  2. swd84, I don't believe there's a book available yet. lists only the journal version, which is online here.

  3. I purchased a copy in Moscow in mid-April (price was 300 rubles). The official details on the copyright page say it was published on February 28, 2010. I'm sure it is now available in every major bookstore in Russia. The book includes Vremya Zhenshchin and a second, equally long piece entitled Kroshki Tsahes.
    I was glad to find it in hard covers, as I struggled to get it in the original journal, and succeeded--through a Russian friend--in getting that only in March 2010, shortly before I spotted the book in hardcover in a bookstore.
    To aid in finding it via on-line, there are two ISBN given in the book: 978-5-17-065697-4 by publishing house AST, and 978-5-271-26989-9 by Astrel.

  4. Thank you for adding the specifics about the book, MV Library. Last week I noticed it for sale on and should have mentioned it!

    I would be interested to hear what you think of Время женщин when you read it.

  5. If you would like to join our book group, who will discuss Elena's Chizhova's Children of Zaches on the 4th April at Pushkin House. Visit to find out more.

  6. As i know Glagoslav Publications is going to publish this book in few weeks

  7. Thank you, Darya, for the comment. I've also heard about the upcoming translation. Your comment was a good reminder: I've been meaning to write to the publisher again, to ask for further information!