Sunday, October 6, 2013

Russian Booker Shortlist, 2013

It certainly is award season! The 2013 Russian Booker Prize shortlist was released last week: six books were chosen from a longlist of 24 books. The winner will be named on December 4 when there will also (apparently) be an announcement about a new grant for translating and publishing a Booker novel. For now, here’s the Booker’s not-so-surprising shortlist:

  • Evgeny Vodolazkin: Лавр (Laurus). Still one of my favorites; also a finalist for the Big Book, Yasnaya Polyana, and National Bestseller. (previous post)

  • 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, too.

  • Denis Gutsko: Бета-самец (Beta Male). This sounds like a novel about a middle-aged guy (not an alpha!) with good connections but not a lot of ambition who is presented with a situation that changes his life. Gutsko won the Booker in 2005.

  • Andrei Ivanov: Харбинские мотыльки (The Moths of Harbin). A novel about Russians in Estonia during 1920-1940. This sounds like a difficult but interesting novel.

  • 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.

  • Vladimir Shapko: У подножия необъятного мира (At the Foot/Pedestal of an/the Immense World…). This work is called a poem but isn’t written as verse, though one observer who read the first installment in a journal says “poem” fits in the Greek sense because the book is an epic set in the Soviet era and looks at a huge number of characters who are regular people. Our observer sounded rather eager for a sense of what it might all mean…

Disclaimers: The usual plus translating Khemlin and Vodolzakin.

Up Next: Yasnaya Polyana award winners (short list here). Oleg Zaionchkovsky’s Petrovich and Vadim Levental’s Masha Regina, both of which I liked very much: I’m starting to think I particularly appreciate books with proper names as titles, given my love of Klotsvog and The Yeltyshevs. Also, a trip report about the American Literary Translators Association conference: I’ll be heading to Bloomington, Indiana, in a little over a week.


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