Sunday, October 23, 2016

The 2016 NOSE Award Longlist

Thank goodness for the NOSE Award longlist! I have to admit that a rainy Saturday and a windy, blustery Sunday weren’t very conducive to writing trip reports or book reports… but an award longlist (oops, almost a “lostlist”) feels like just the thing. And the NOSE Award—a program of the Prokhorov Foundation—is always a quirky matter (I still don’t quite understand the NOSE), whether we’re talking about a longlist, shortlist, or award final, and that makes NOSE all the more appealing today. Beyond that, there’s not much time to post the list: the shortlist is apparently on the express, scheduled for debate and arrival on November 2. So here’s the whole longlist, in the order presented on the Prokhorov Foundation site and with my completely inconsistent transliterations of names:

  • Yuri Buida’s Цейлон (Ceylon), which has already hit other longlists and which I’ve read (previous post).
  • Eugene Vodolazkin’s Авиатор (The Aviator), which is already on the Big Book shortlist and which I’m already translating and loving all over again (previous post).
  • Polina Zherebtsova’s Тонкая серебристая нить (Thin Silver Thread) is a collection of stories about civilian life in Grozny during the Chechen Wars. Brief extracts from Zherebtsova’s diary (NB: this is a different book!).
  • Kirill Kobrins Шерлок Холмс и рождение современности. Деньги, девушки, денди Викторианской Эпохи (Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of Modernity. Money, Young Women, and Dandies of the Victorian Epoch) is nonfiction that the title and this excerpt explain.
  • Sergei Kuznetsov’s Калейдоскоп (excerpt) (Kaleidoscope) involves dozens of characters and their stories, set in the twentieth century; one of my Goodreads friends noted sex and vampires. This one sounded interesting from the start but for some reason hearing it described—in a positive way, mind you—as “Pynchon lite” more than once in Moscow intrigues me all the more.
  • Vladimir Martynov’s Книга Перемен (The Book of Changes) is described as more of a palimpsest than a book and as a sort of hypertext for hyperreading that uses zapping and (appropriately enough, I suppose) fortune telling practices from that other The Book of Changes. I was an I Ching fan as a teenager and don’t want to sound dismissive but, hmm.
  • Aleksandra Petrova’s Аппендикс (excerpt) (The Appendix, in a metaphorical sense, it seems) is a novel about Rome. (A review)
  • Moshe Shanin’s Левоплоссковские. Правоплоссковские (The title refer to residents of the villages of Levoplosskaya and Pravoplosskaya) is a collection of stories written by a young writer—he was a Debut winner for short fiction in 2014—from Severodvinsk, which interests me from the start because of my many visits to Arkhangelsk.
  • Vladimir Voinovich’s Малиновый пеликан (excerpt) (The Raspberry Pelican, perhaps referring to the bird’s color, based on the cover…) is more Voinovich satire with absurdity.
  • Dmitrii Lipskerov’s О нем и о бабочках (expert from GQ) (Lipskerov reads from the book on YouTube) (About Him and About Butterflies/Moths/Bow Ties, I’m betting on the lepidoptera, based on a reader review and other factors…) seems to be about a man who loses, ahem, intimate anatomy. The GQ excerpt intro compares it to Gogol’s “The Nose,” one of my all-time favorites, and it’s obvious why, even just skimming the excerpt.
  • Igor Sakhnovsky’s Свобода по умолчанию (Freedom by Default) is apparently a novel about love, internal freedom, and political absurdity.
  • Vasilii Avchenko’s Кристалл в прозрачной оправе (Crystal in a Transparent Frame) carries the subtitle “lyrical lectures about water and stones,” and Avchenko is said to cover many aspects of life in Vladivostok, including fish(ing), as in this excerpt. Ocean lover that I am, I bought this one after it hit the 2016 NatsBest shortlist.
  • Aleksei Zikmund’s Карело-финский дневник (Karelian-Finnish Diary) is a bit of a mystery…
  • Oleg Zaionchkovsky’s Тимошина проза (Timosha’s Prose), which I read and don’t quite know how to describe… it’s a detached but close narrative about a young man. The novel lacks the, hmm, snap and pop (and crackle, too, I suppose) of Zaionchkovsky’s previous books.
  • Boris Lego’s Сумеречные рассказы (Dusky Stories) is a collection of nineteen Russian gothic stories; a cover blurb calls it the scariest book of the year…
  • Sergei Lebedev’s Люди августа (People of August, click through for synopsis and excerpt) is also on the 2016 Booker shortlist.
  • Andrei Sharys Дунай. Река империй (The Dunai. River of Empires, okay fine, The Danube…) has a lovely cover (I like old maps) and looks at history and the Danube over three millennia.
  • Ivan Shipnigov’s Нефть, метель и другие веселые боги (Oil, Blizzard, and Other Cheerful Gods) is a collection of stories in which, according to the publisher, oil is the most cheerful of the Gods or gods, I’m not sure which, particularly since the publisher also compares Shipnigov’s prose to the young Pelevin’s. Here’s a sample story from the collection.

Up Next: Trip reports (Moscow and Oakland), the afore-mentioned Zaionchkovsky book and Alexander Snegirev’s patient Faith/Vera, more award news, and other Big Book finalists, though this second half of the list brings me little joy and much left unfinished…

Disclaimers and disclosures. The usual, plus translating that Vodolazkin book and the fact of support for my translation work from Prokhorov Foundation grants.


  1. ...Aaaand my reading list has grown by six books. Thanks for posting this longlist, Lisa!