Saturday, October 24, 2020

Yasnaya Polyana Award Winners for 2020

The Yasnaya Polyana Award announced its 2020 winners yesterday at an in-person ceremony in Moscow. I watched chunks of it (two and a half hours was more than a bit much, even for me!) on YouTube; it’s archived here on the Yasnaya Polyana site along with descriptions of each winner.

The winning book in the contemporary prose category was Evgeny Chizhov for Собиратель рая (a title I still can’t decide how best to translate: Collector of Heaven? Collecting Heaven? Perhaps something with “paradise”?). As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a slow-moving, good-natured book about a woman with dementia and her son, a flea market fan. I read about half; Collector felt almost anticlimactic for me after Chizhov’s The Translation (previous post), which I found so much more compelling, lively, and spirited. That’s not to say I don’t understand Collector’s appeal – I most certainly do – but it’s just not my book.

The reader’s choice prize went to Sasha Filipenko for Возвращение в Острог (Return to Ostrog, where “Ostrog” is apparently a toponym; the word means “prison”). Filipenko won 71.5% of the vote; voting was rather theatrically stopped (on a Samsung device since Samsung is the award sponsor) during the ceremony itself. I haven’t yet read Ostrog but am very interested. The reader award runner-up was Andrei Astvatsaturov’s Don’t Feed or Touch the Pelicans, with 8.3% of the vote.

Two other awards were presented. The “event of the year” was Vremya’s publication of a thick collection of works by Oleg Pavlov, who died in 2018; the book is introduced by a series of writers’ remembrances of Pavlov. Last but definitely not least: the foreign literature award, for a translation, went to Alexandra Borisenko and Viktor Sonkin’s translation of Patricia Duncker’s James Miranda Barry for publishing house Sindbad.

Disclaimers & Disclosures: The usual, for being acquainted with some of the writers, translators, publishers, and jurors involved with events and books in this post.

Up Next: Inga Kuznetsova’s Intervals, finally!


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