Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! & 2012 Highlights

Happy new year! С Новым годом! I hope 2013 brings you many more Russian books and stories to love, no matter what language you read in. Before moving on to 2013, here are a few highlights from 2012, a year with lots more travel (hence a little less reading!) than I’d expected…

Favorite book by an author I’d already read. Dmitrii Danilov’s Description of a City (previous post) was one of my favorite books of 2012, a lovely small novel about visiting a city once a month for a year. Danilov’s combination of form and content worked beautifully for me.

Favorite book by an author I’d never read. Marina Stepnova’s Lazar’s Women/The Women of Lazarus (previous post), which was shortlisted for the National Bestseller, Big Book, and Booker awards, winning two third prizes from Big Book. If you’re looking for a family saga with touches of postmodernism and perfectly positioned пошлость, this is your novel.

Favorite book that friends didn’t seem to like. Sure, I described Alexander Ilichevsky’s The Anarchists (previous post) as “lumpy” and, yes, I’ll agree with those of you who think some of the tangents are too long… but I still enjoyed the book very much, thanks to Ilichevsky’s combination of old and new. A perfect book to read on the deck during the summer.

Favorite travel. All of it! Two trips to Moscow, first for the International Congress of Literary Translators then for workshops and the Non/fiction book fair, were, by far, my biggest and best travel surprises of the year. A week in New York for BookExpo America and Read Russia! events was a lot of fun, too, and the American Literary Translators Association conference, in Rochester, NY, was a great time as well, despite the untimely late-night appearance of a bedbug.

What’s coming up in 2013? Top priority is getting rid of an intransigent cold!... Thanks to those trips to Moscow, my bookshelves are more loaded now than they’ve ever been, meaning I have so many reading choices I don’t even know what to say I’m most looking forward to… As for travel, the 2013 ALTA conference will be in Bloomington, Indiana, which I’m especially excited about because a friend and former co-worker from Moscow lives near Indianapolis. I’m also waiting to hear more about a possible Russian translation workshop in England next summer… Beyond all that, the Read Russia! program continues and I have some fun translation projects to work on after the holidays.

Thank you! Most important, a big thanks to all of you for visiting the blog, leaving comments, recommending books, and/or sending me notes and books. I enjoy hearing from you and was glad to see so many of you this year... I hope to see and meet more of you in 2013! Here’s to lots more happy reading in the new year!

Disclosures.  The usual. Previous posts that I referenced in this post contain further disclosure information about individual books and relationships.

Up next. Aleksei Slapovskii’s День денег (Money’s Day/A Day for Money) and Valerii Popov’s Плясать до смерти (To Dance to Death). The incredible lightness of reading Olga Lukas and Andrei Stepanov’s Prince Sobakin’s Elixir became too cloying, like trying to make a meal of meringue.

Image credit: Fireworks in Bratislava, New Year 2005, from Ondrejk, via Wikipedia.


  1. Happy new year to you as well (from one who is also trying to get rid of an intransigent cold)!

    1. Thank you, Languagehat! I hope your cold is gone soon.

  2. Happy new year! Nothing gets rid of colds like drafts, drinking cold milk, and not wearing a hat.

  3. Thanks, Alex, this is the best advice for colds yet! I did have some cold milk (instead of Champagne) last night so we'll hope that does the trick!

  4. Thanks for this list. They give ideas.

  5. I am terrifically chuffed at having come across your blog. I've only had a taste of Russian literature, but I really do want to get to know it well, and your blog is the perfect resource.

    Incidentally, I don't know if you've reviewed it already somewhere in your archives - but have you read Trifonov's "The Impatient Ones", or "Impatience"? I came across it in a random bookstore in a small north-Indian town, picked it up on a whim, and absolutely loved every word.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Enduring Romantic -- I hope you enjoy the blog! (I was happy to learn about yours...)

      I've read very little Trifonov though seem to make perpetual promises to myself to read more. I don't have Impatience in my lonely Trifonov collection but will keep it in mind!