Monday, June 2, 2014
Newest news first: Ksenia Buksha won the National Bestseller Award yesterday for her novel Завод “Свобода” (The “Freedom” Factory) and Anna Starobinets won National Bestseller’s “Beginning” award for her story collection Икарова железа (The Icarus Gland).
Buksha’s writing is pretty much unknown to me, other than a tiny book, a long story/novella called Inside Out (Наизнанку) that, alas, I couldn’t quite get into. I’ve read many good things about her work, though, and may order up a copy of Factory. Peculiarly enough, Starobinets, the alleged beginner, is far more familiar: in fact Starobinets’s literary agency, Banke, Goumen & Smironova, says The Icarus Gland is Starobinets’s seventh published book of prose. The Icarus Gland is even being translated, by Jamie Rann, for Skyscraper Publications and should be out this fall; Skyscraper founder Karl Sabbagh, whom I met last week at BookExpo America, formerly worked for Hesperus Press, which published Starobinets’s An Awkward Age (translated by Hugh Aplin) and The Living (translated by Jamie Rann). My favorite Starobinets (so far!) is still Sanctuary 3/9, a wonderfully creepy novel with lots of themes from folktales (previous post).
Sanctuary 3/9 makes a nice segue since the book was, in its own way, a part of the program at the Read Russia Prize ceremony on Friday night: the evening included a screening of the documentary film Russia’s Open Book, which features Starobinets and a brief excerpt from the book. (You, too, can watch Russia’s Open Book right here. It’s well worth watching.)
As for the Read Russia Prize itself, Joanne Turnbull won for her translation of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Autobiography of a Corpse, published by New York Review Books. The late Peter Carson’s translation of Lev Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich & Confession, published by W.W. Norton, received a second prize commendation. The list of nominees, available here, shows the contenders were a combination of classic and contemporary books.
Ellendea Proffer Teasley’s presence on Friday made the evening particularly memorable: Ardis books and Russian Literature Triquarterly were a crucial part of my Russian literature education, so it was a pleasure and, really, an honor to have a chance to meet Teasley.
Disclaimers: The usual for my work for/with Read Russia and several other entities and individuals mentioned in this post.
Up Next: Inspector NOSE results. Report on last week’s trip to New York for BookExpo America: it was lots of fun despite my unusually sore feet! And the books are piling up: Yuri Mamleyev’s The Sublimes is still waiting for its post, I’ve almost finished Irina Ratushinskaya’s The Odessans, Bulgakov’s White Guard remains “in progress,” plus I picked up a copy of Anna Matveeva’s story collection Подожди, я умру — и приду (Hold on, I’ll Die and Come Back) at the Read Russia booth. I read and enjoyed the first story in the collection on the plane ride home and (whoa!) am wondering if I might be in a short story frame of mind right now. That might be a very good thing, considering all the wonderful collections I rarely seem to get to…