Friday, March 18, 2011

The Russian Booker Comes Full Circle

Yesterday was an interesting day for the Russian Booker Prize… The big news was the announcement that the Booker has no more money because its 10-year sponsorship contract with BP – yes, the BP more formally known as British Petroleum – has ended. The Booker people are looking for new financial backing. I wonder if they’re searching for another sponsor with the initials BP.

A few hours later I saw that last year’s Russia Booker winner, Elena Koliadina’s Цветочный крест (The Cross of Flowers) “won” the Полный абзац (Complete Abzats) antiprize. Abzats awards recognize “all the worst in literature” and are presented by the newspaper Книжное обозрение (Book Review) (previous post with Abzats description/definition). Among other things, the award announcement cited Koliadina’s attempt to simultaneously sit on three genre “chairs”: women’s, historical, and grotesque. AST, which published The Cross of Flowers in book form, noted that the award recognized the journal version of the novel, not the AST version. Heaven forbid! Of course that very same journal version won the Booker (previous post). Alas, the journal version of the book is no longer available online.

As someone who follows the Booker at a distance, I found the Abzats announcement about the Koliadina book more than a little amusing, an exclamation point of sorts on the Booker bankruptcy announcement. My head is feeling slow and addled by Sudafed so I’ll stop there before I turn this post into a complete abzats of a mess.

Up next: When my wits are back I’ll write about Mikhail Shishkin’s Письмовник (Letter-Book) and Elena Chizhova’s Полукровка (Half-Breed or Half-Blood). And then Margarita Khemlin’s most recent book.

9 comments:

  1. wow! This I wasn't expecting!

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  2. I knew I'd hear from you about this, deisoca! I did know that this might happen... but had completely forgotten about it until I saw the news story.

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  3. A pity about the Booker. But your post is funny! Thanks.

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  4. Just out of curiosity, why leave абзац untranslated? Not that there's an obvious way to render Полный абзац, but one could go with "The living end" or "Damn it, I've had it!" or something.

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  5. Well, let's wait and see what they're going to do about it!

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  6. @Kinna: I'm glad you enjoyed it! It is a pity about the Booker, though I don't think the Booker juries have helped matters much with their last couple of awards.

    @Languagehat: Rather than rehashing possible definitions, I included a link to a past post about the Abzats "awards." Perhaps I didn't make it obvious enough -- I added "definition" to the reference. I think of the Абзац "honors" as the Big Mess Awards for sentimental reasons but I have to admit I just love the sound of absats!

    @deisoca: Indeed! I'm curious to see what happens. I'm wondering if there will be any news on this at next month's London Book Fair: there's a session on awards, including the Booker.

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  7. http://www.lenta.ru/articles/2011/03/18/merit/

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  8. That's what one gets forming alliances with such corporate institutions. I hope they source for funds elsewhere and revive it.

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  9. Sorry, I missed your explanatory link.

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