All that work compiling the entire Big Book long list last month had its benefits: Big Book’s finalists were announced today, the day I head to New York for BookExpo America, so all I have to do is select the nine finalists from that big, long list. Here’s the list of finalists… and I’m off…
- Svetlana Aleksievich: Время секонд хэнд (See Second-Hand Time for a detailed description and a list of translations). Nonfiction about Russia’s post-Soviet history.
- 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. Shortlisted for this year’s National Bestseller.
- Aleksandr Grigorenko: Ильгет. Три имени судьбы (excerpts) (Ilget. Three Names for Fate). Shortlisted for this year’s NOSE Award. Novel set in the early thirteenth century in the taiga.
- Aleksei Makushinskii: Пароход в Аргентину (Steamship to Argentina). A novel about émigré life and Proustian searches.
- Zakhar Prilepin: Обитель (The Cloister). A novel about the Solovetsky Islands in the 1920s.
- Viktor Remizov: Воля вольная (Willful Will/Free Freedom… oh, how I want to preserve those common roots even if the title doesn’t work!). In any case, this is a novel about poaching, corruption, and conflict in the Russian Far East… though there’s much more to it than that. [Description edited after reading the book.]
- 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. Shortlisted for this year’s National Bestseller.
- Evgenii Chizhov: Перевод с подстрочника (literally Translation from a Literal Translation) A novel about a translator who goes to an invented country with a name ending in –stan to get some literal translations of poetry that need to be translated into real Russian.
- 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. Shortlisted for this year’s National Bestseller.
And a last-minute, late-breaking bonus! Here are the finalists for the Read Russia Prize for Russian-to-English translations. The award will be announced on Friday evening. I’ll add a comment to this post that night, naming the winner.
- Robert and Elizabeth Chandler for An Armenian Sketchbook, by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books) (previous post)
- Joanne Turnbull for Autobiography of a Corpse, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books)
- Peter Carson for The Death of Ivan Ilyich & A Confession, by Lev Tolstoy (W.W. Norton)
Disclaimers: The usual. I have worked on projects for Read Russia over the last several years.
Up Next: Yuri Mamleyev’s The Sublimes and lots more award news, including NatsBest, the Read Russia Award, and Inspector NOSE results. Not to mention a BookExpo America trip report.