I’ve grown to enjoy literary award long lists: I guess I like the fact that long lists are so long, meaning they serve up dozens of reading ideas. I’ve also found that many of my favorite books make it to multiple long and short lists but don’t win big prizes. Today there’s an additional long list benefit: posting about this year’s NatsBest gives me a nice reprieve from finishing my piece about Olga Slavnikova’s Лёгкая голова (Lightheaded). I’ve been struggling with it for days...
So! The NatsBest long list contains around 60 nominations; manuscripts and books, in journal or book form, are eligible. A few to mention:
The most popular book, with three nominations, is Andrei Astvatsaturov’s Скунскамера. The title, Skun(k)skamera, is a play on “Kunstkamera.” Astvatsaturov’s Люди в голом (People in the Nude) was a finalist for last year’s NatsBest. For his part, Astvatsaturov nominated Mikhail Elizarov’s Мультики (‘Toons); it’s the only book on the list that I’ve read so far (previous post).
The most-nominated author, by titles, is Andrei Rubanov, who has three books on the list: Тоже родина (Also a Homeland or Another Homeland), Йод (Iodine), and Психодел (I’ll call it Psychodeal: the book blurb says the title is a combination of two Russian words: psychosis and the verb делать, to do…). Homeland is a collection of stories; the other two books are novels. Roman Senchin nominated Iodine, which is apparently somewhat autobiographical; Senchin’s Изобилие (Abundance), a book of stories, made the list, too.
The NatsBest is intended to make a book into a bestseller – its slogan is “Проснуться знаменитым,” “Wake up famous” – but Pavel Krusanov nominated Viktor Pelevin’s Ананасная вода для прекрасной дамы (Pineapple Water for the Beautiful Lady), a book that’s already been at the top of bestseller lists; as of today, it’s at number 6. Oh well. Meanwhile, German Sadulaev’s Шалинский рейд (The Raid on Shali) was nominated twice but withdrawn for not fitting the competition’s rules because it was a 2010 Booker finalist. Elena Koliadina, who won the 2010 Booker, is on the big jury for the NatsBest.
Two more: Marina Palei’s Дань саламандре (Tribute [the old-fashioned kind] for the Salamander) (beginning) (end) is allegedly a Petersburg novel… I enjoyed Il’ia Boiashov’s The Tank Driver or “White Tiger” (previous post) so may give his Каменная баба (The Stone Woman) a try, particularly since the Russian phrase for “stone woman” refers to ancient statues and the book’s action, at first glance, anyway, looks thoroughly contemporary…
I’ll finish by saying that Viktor Toporov mentions in his commentary about the list that Boiashov is one of four nominees who’s already won the NatsBest. The other three are Dmitrii Bykov, Pelevin, and Aleksandr Prokhanov.
Up next: The afore-mentioned post about Slavnikova’s Lightheaded, which I enjoyed. Then Mikhail Shishkin’s Письмовник (Letter-Book), which I’m not so thrilled about.