Sunday, September 29, 2013

Yet More Award News: NOSE Goes Long, Enlighten Me, and GQ Pelevin (?!)

Oh my, how quickly last week went by! I meant to finish a post last week about Oleg Zaionchkovskii’s Petrovich but then got sidetracked by lots and lots of work… and then saw the NOSE shortlist, which means I’ll post today about awards and finish writing about Petrovich next weekend.

First off, the NOSE award, a program of the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, named its longlist, which, with 25 items, is long for a list but short for a longlist. The shortlist will be along on October 31, perfect for literary tricks and treats. Here’s a longlist excerpt, for which I can rely largely on cut-and-paste technology since many listings repeat from previous award shortlists and longlists.

Three books I’ve already read and enjoyed:
  • Evgeny Vodolazkin: Лавр (Laurus). Still one of my favorites; also a finalist for the Big Book, Yasnaya Polyana, and National Bestseller. (previous post)
  • Vadim Levental: Маша Регина (Masha Regina). Another favorite that I’ll be writing about soon. Translating excerpts makes me appreciate Masha Regina even more.
  • Margarita Khemlin: Дознаватель (The Investigator). Another one I read and enjoyed (previous post). BTW, Subtropics will be publishing my translation of one of Margarita’s stories fairly soon.
Some books are on other shortlists or have already won awards:
  • Alexander Arkhangelsky: Музей революции (Museum of the Revolution). Book of the Year winner; I just couldn’t get into this one.
  • Andrei Volos: Возвращение в Панджруд (excerpts) (Return to Panjrud). Volos, who is originally from Dushanbe, often writes about Central Asia. His agent’s site says this novel is about a poet in the Middle Ages. Finalist for this year’s Big Book.
  • Alisa Ganieva: Праздничная гора (Holiday Mountain). A novel about Dagestan… in which Dagestan becomes separate from Russia, resulting in problems and not-so-happy endings.
  • Il’dar Abuziarov: Мутабор (Mutabor, the Latin first-person singular future passive indicative of mūtō, according to Wiktionary, related to mutate and indicating change or transformation. “Mutabor” is used as a magic word in some stories, including Wilhelm Hauff’s “Caliph Stork.”), This book is described as an intellectual chess detective novel, though Abuziarov sees it more as a political thriller. Either way, there’s a booktrailer!
  • Anton Ponizovskii: Обращение в слух (maybe For the Ears?)
  • Sergei Beliakov: Гумилев сын Гумилева (excerpts) (Gumilev, Son of Gumilev). I read the first chapter of this book last night and liked it very, very much.
There are plenty of books I haven’t read by writers I have read, if only a bit—Alexander Kabakov, Mikhail Elizarov, Vladimir Kozlov, Anna Starobinets, and Igor Sakhnovskii—but I’m going to list a few books and writers that aren’t familiar, particularly since NOSE can be rather quirky so I never know what I might find:
  • Igor Funt: Останусь лучше там… (I’d Best Stay There…). Crime/action. Excerpt here.
  • Vladimir Martynov: Книга книг (The Book of Books). Words and images from a composer and writer.
  • Evgenii Bunimovich: Девятый класс. Вторая школа (Ninth Grade. School Number Two). Apparently “a declaration of love in 23 parts.”
Meanwhile, in the land of nonfiction, the Просветитель (Enlightener) award named its shortlist last week. I noticed Enlightener more than usual this year because Victor Sonkin, a translator who was at the translators’ coven in June, made the humanitarian sciences shortlist for his Здесь был Рим (Here Was Rome).

Finally, I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw that GQ named Viktor Pelevin “writer of the year” for 2013: with Pelevin’s sales figures, Pelevin is writer of the year just about every damn year. (This reminds me of how my mother always used to tell me, “every day is children’s day” when I was little and asked why parents had special holidays but kids didn’t.) Pelevin beat out Evgenii Vodolazkin, Maksim Kantor, Mikhail Shishkin, and Anton Ponizovskii, all of whom had eventful years for reasons that seem far more interesting to me than yet another bestseller.

Disclosures: The usual. I’ve translated work by several writers listed.

Up Next: Zaionchkovskii’s Petrovich, Levental’s Masha Regina, Yasnaya Polyana winners, translator conference trip report…


  1. I would render Обращение в слух as All Ears; I believe превращаться/обращаться в слух is 'be(come) all ears, be completely absorbed in listening.'

    [I found myself unable to edit my comment, even though I'd hit Preview and not Publish; even when I closed the window and reentered the blog afresh, when I went to this post my comment popped up again, with no way to edit it, so I finally had to publish it, delete it, and post it again correctly. Don't know if this is a bug in your comment software, but I thought I'd mention it.]

    1. Thanks, Languagehat, on both counts... Yes, All Ears sounds good for that title.

      I'm not a fan of the recent commenting overhaul, even when everything's working properly: I don't like it when buttons and margins get moved this much!

  2. Considering the significance of Anton' work, I'd translate it as Russian Soul, I think the Обращение в слух title does nothing to get the reader, especially the international reader, interested in this jewel

    1. Thank you for your comment, Grigory! I agree that Обращение в слух doesn't exactly grab the reader, though the phrase "Russian soul" feels a little general to me. Then again, I always have difficulty with book titles, both as a reader and as a translator. (This is, I confess, a problem that began in high school, when I took to calling all my essays "A Commentary on...")