Just a very quick post with this year’s Big Book Award
winners. There weren’t any real surprises here. I would have loved to have seen
Evgeny Chizhov win something—anything!—for his Translation from a Literal Translation, (previous
post), which I liked so much but, well…
- The top prize was awarded to Zakhar Prilepin’s Обитель (The Cloister). A novel about the Solovetsky Islands in the 1920s. The Cloister already won the Book of the Year award and is also a finalist for the Russian Booker. I’ve been reading The Cloister for a while and it will take me another while to finish: it’s very long and rather detailed.
- Vladimir Sorokin took second place for 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.
- Vladimir Sharov won third place for 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 Russian Booker.
- Svetlana Aleksievich was the favorite in readers’ voting, for her Время секонд хэнд (See Second-Hand Time for a detailed description and a list of translations). Nonfiction about Russia’s post-Soviet history.
- Zakhar Prilepin won second place from readers for Обитель (The Cloister). A novel about the Solovetsky Islands in the 1920s.
- Third prize went to Aleksei Makushinskii’s Пароход в Аргентину (Steamship to Argentina), a novel about émigré life and Proustian searches.