Yes, that’s right, this year there are two National Bestseller shortlists: the usual NatsBest shortlist and a NatsBest-Beginning shortlist of books written by young writers. Where “young” means under 35. The “Beginning” piece of NatsBest is sponsored by the TV channel 2x2; 2x2 will choose the winner. There’s a bit of list-based overlap:
The “usual” NatsBest shortlist
- Sergei Shargunov: 1993. This novel calls itself “a family portrait set against the backdrop of a burning house”… 1993 was the year of the “October events,” when tanks shelled the Russian White House. (13 points)
- Pavel Krusanov: Царь головы ([edit The Tsar in the Head, thanks Languagehat!] Tsar of the Head? I feel like I’m missing something horribly, embarrassingly obvious here, me and my titles!..). Short stories. (10 points)
- Ksenia Buksha: Завод “Свобода” (The “Freedom” Factory). About a factory called Freedom that was founded in 1920 then fails in a later era; based on real events. (9 points)
- Vladimir Sharov: Возвращение в Египет (Return to Egypt). In which one Kolya Gogol (a distant relative of familiar old Nikolai Gogol) finishes writing Dead Souls. An epistolary novel. (8 points)
- Marat Basyrov: Печатная машина (The Typewriter). A novel with story-like chapters; this one sounds difficult to describe, with (to summarize vague summaries) existential suffering. (6 points)
- Vladimir Sorokin: Теллурия (Tellurium). On my NatsBest long list post, I wrote: A polyphonic novel in 50 highly varying chapters. I read about 150 pages before setting Tellurium aside: Sorokin’s use of a futuristic medieval setting, tiny and huge people, kinky stuff, sociopolitical observations, and a novel (ha!) psychotropic agent all felt way too familiar after Day of the Oprichnik, The Blizzard, and The Sugar Kremlin. (6 points)
The NatsBest-Beginning shortlist
- Valerii Airapetian: Свободное падение (Freefall) Short stories. (6 points)
- Ksenia Buksha: Завод “Свобода” (The “Freedom” Factory) About a factory called Freedom that was founded in 1920 then fails in a later era; based on real events. (4 points)
- Kirill Ryabov: Сжигатель трупов (The Corpse Incinerator/Burner) A debut novel with stories that NatsBest secretary Vadim Levental says fit the book’s title, which is also Ryabov’s pseudonym. Hmm. (2 points)
- Anna Starobinets: Икарова железа (The Icarus Gland) This book, “a collection of speculative stories,” will be coming out in English translation in 2014, from a new publisher, Skyhook Press. (2 points)
- Sergei Shargunov: 1993. This novel calls itself “a family portrait against the backdrop of a burning house”… 1993 was the year of the “October events,” when tanks shelled the Russian White House. (2 points)
Disclaimers. The usual.
Up Next. Oh my! There’s a lot… The Big Book long list is coming very soon. Then we have: Soviets, another wonderfully produced book from Fuel; this one has drawings by Danzig Baldaev and photos by Sergei Vasiliev. And Yuri Mamleyev’s The Sublimes. And, later still, Mikhail Bulgakov’s White Guard.