Saturday, June 4, 2011

BookExpo America 2011: Odds & Ends on Russian Books & Programs

I always seem to enjoy BookExpo America, but this year’s BEA was particularly fun thanks to increased interest in Russian literature: Russia will be the Global Market Forum country in 2012. A brief summary of a press conference about Global Market Forum, posted by BEA director Steve Rosato, mentions plans to bring more than 40 Russian writers to New York. Needless to say, I can’t wait!

This year’s BEA program included two Russian programs that covered, among other things, a bilingual reading from 2017 with Olga Slavnikova and Marian Schwartz, who translated the book for Overlook, plus an introduction to four writers – Irina Bogatyreva, Polina Kliukina, Pavel Kostin, and Andrei Kuzechkin – who were Debut Prize winners or nominees. Kostin and Kuzechkin’s Rooftop Anesthesia and Mendeleev Rock, respectively, were published, in Andrew Bromfield’s translation, by Glas in 2011, and three of Kliukina’s stories, in Anne O. Fisher’s translation, are in the Squaring the Circle anthology, also from Glas.

2011 releases of newly translated Russian books from American publishers include, listed by publication date:

Twelve Who Don’t Agree, by Valery Panyushkin, translated by Marian Schwartz, due out July 16, from Europa Editions. For a taste of Panyushkin, try the recent New York Times piece “Was It Something I Wrote?” I’m looking forward to reading Twelve.

Apricot Jam, a story collection by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, translated by ? (I’ll see if I can get the name and add it), due out in September, from Counterpoint. (PDF catalogue) Since Counterpoint’s description refers to the eight stories, written in the 1990s, as “paired,” I’m figuring they’ve preserved (no pun intended) the Apricot Jam story cycle presented in this Azbuka-klassika Russian edition and a book on my shelf.

Thirst, a novel by Andrei Gelasimov, translated by Marian Schwartz, due out November 22, , from Amazon Crossing. I read and enjoyed Thirst years ago, before I started blogging, and was interested to see that Amazon Crossing will be publishing several other Gelasimov books.

The Letter Killers Club, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated by Joanne Turnbull, due out December 6, from New York Review Books. This is a great incentive for me to finally read some Krzhizhanovsky. NYRB also has more Vasily Grossman and Andrey Platonov on the way, in the more distant future.

I’ll be writing more about these books later this year. [Edit: A previous post covers other translation releases for 2011.]

One other note: I finished out my four days in New York with an unexpected visit to the Chelsea Art Museum for a fantastic exhibit: Concerning the Spiritual Tradition in Russian Art: Selections from the Kolodzei Art Foundation. I spent several hours at the museum with Tatiana and Natalia Kolodzei, who gave me a personal tour of the exhibit. If you’re in the New York area, I highly recommend a visit. The exhibit closes June 11; Natalia will offer a gallery talk on June 11 at 4 p.m.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a brief post on the winner of the NatsBest.

Up Next: The 2011 NatsBest winner, then Vsevolod Benigsen’s ГенАцид (GenAcide). I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual reading pace after a spring of colds and wonderful but exhausting travel.

Disclaimers: The usual. I’ve discussed translated fiction with all the publishers named in this post.


  1. Whoa? Why didn't I know about your blog before? I'm a long-ago Russian language major, trying to keep up with new writing.
    Thank bookbench for alerting me to this post-now to go read it!

  2. Thank you for the comment, Tejanarusa, I'm glad you found the blog!

  3. I'm sorry I missed you at BEA! I also missed Olga Slavnikova which saddens me, but I did pick up 2017, so I'm looking forward to reading it. I enjoyed BEA, but I think I might go again next year with different expectations and focus primarily on BBC.

  4. I'm sorry to have missed you at BEA, too, Coffee and a Book Chick! I think it's really hard to focus at your first BEA because it's just so big and overwhelming. I spent three days this year but still missed a few booths I'd planned to visit... though I found lots of good surprises because I wandered.

    I hope you enjoy 2017. We'll have to plan to meet up next year... I'm sure I'll be easy to find around all the Russian events!