Sunday, October 7, 2018

Goodbye to Oleg Pavlov

I’d been planning to write a light, easy post today but I’m writing instead about the death of writer Oleg Pavlov. He died this Moscow afternoon, of a heart attack. He was only 48 and his death saddens me tremendously. 

Pavlov won the 2012 Solzhenitsyn Prize (previous post) and received the 2002 Russian Booker for his Карагандинские девятины, или Повесть последних дней (Requiem for a Soldier, in Anna Gunin’s translation for And Other Stories). Requiem for a Soldier is the final book of a trilogy that And Other Stories has published in full: the other two books are Казенная сказка (Captain of the Steppe in Ian Appleby’s translation) and Дело Матюшина (The Matiushin Case in Andrew Bromfield’s translation). Arch Tate translated Pavlov’s Асистолия (Asystole or Flatline) for Glagoslav; here’s a sample.

I’ve read only Captain of the Steppe (previous post, where I called it A Barracks Tale) and Flatline (previous post). Neither is cheery but both inspired tremendous respect for Pavlov’s writing. He was a very good writer. I’ve been intending to read the second two books of the trilogy for all too many years now.

Pavlov’s death brought back memories of meeting him at the London Book Fair in 2011, particularly debating the ultimate fate of Flatline’s main character with him and two other readers. I didn’t know him well at all, but Phoebe Taplin’s article for The Calvert Journal covers a great deal about Pavlov’s life and reminds me of my exchanges with Pavlov, too, in which he also described catching a cold in London and, among other things, told me I worked too hard and recommended books to read. I’m very sorry to learn of his passing.

Two other articles on Pavlov’s life and writing: