Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yasnaya Polyana Award Short List

Six finalists for Yasnaya Polyana’s “21st Century” award were announced on September 9, Lev Tolstoy’s birthday. The books sound like a varied bunch:

Aleksandr Ilichevskii’s Перс (The Persian), a novel about an émigré to the U.S. who returns to his place of birth, on the Caspian, where he sees a childhood friend who lives in a nature preserve. (I’ll be reading this one soon.)

Boris Klimychev’s Треугольное письмо (most likely The Triangular Letter), a novel in stories that’s available online: начало окончание

Maksim Osipov’s Грех жаловаться (literally, It’s a Sin to Complain… more Maine-ish, Can’t Complain), writings by a rural doctor. In 2007 Osipov received an award from the journal Знамя, which has published his work. Online here. A review here.

Oleg Pavlov’s complex novel Асистолия (Asystole), which I wrote about here.

Mikhail Tarkovskii’s Замороженное время (Frozen Time), stories about people living on the Yenisei River. (In case you’re wondering about his name… Yes, Tarkovskii is the grandson of poet Arsenii Tarkovskii, whose poetry I have enjoyed, and a nephew of director Andrei Tarkovskii. His father is film director Aleksandr Gordon.)

Elena Takho-Godi’s У мирного порога моего (How about: At My Quiet Doorstep), another collection of short stories, available online here.

The Yasnaya Polyana awards recognize works with humanistic and moral ideals. The award was co-founded in 2003 by the Yasnaya Polyana Museum and Samsung Electronics. The prize got much richer this year, according to the 21st Century winner will receive 750,000 rubles, and the winner of the Contemporary Classic award will receive 900,000 rubles. Winners will be announced in October.

Up next: I had a very slow reading week thanks to home repairs and lots of allergies (largely caused by afore-mentioned home repairs) so haven’t quite finished The Devil’s Wheel. I suspect I also started slowing the pace, subconsciously, at around page 650 because I’ve enjoyed the book so much that I don’t want to finish it... I’ll be back soon with more.

Photo credit: SiefkinDR, via Wikipedia.


  1. This week has been full of international literary prizes. It's making my TBR pile grow and grow, which is not a bad thing.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Gina... I know what you mean about the prizes and the piles of books! The long-but-short list for the Russian Big Book is always especially fun for me.

  3. Looking forward to your reviews about these books. It's great that many of them are available online from the "толстые журналы" websites. "Перс" sounds very interesting (

  4. Thank you for your comment, Steven! I expect to read Перс fairly soon: I've been enjoying reading lots of the Big Book finalists and am glad shortlists have a tendency to overlap. (Especially since so many of the books are so physically big...) It's hard to say how many of the other YP finalists I'll get to: some of the stories look good, despite my novel preference, so we'll see what's available in book form. I know the Tarkovskii book is. In any case, you are right: the толстые журналы sites are absolutely wonderful!

  5. Lisa, thank you for posting the links. I am in the middle of a project to read all the major recent award winners and finalists,and much as I am loving it, it is totally daunting! It would be great to sample the stories on the websites.

  6. Thanks for the comment, Margarita! Yes, that is a very daunting -- but fun -- project, particularly given the size of the Big Book short list. Enjoy all your reading.