Wednesday, December 5, 2007

2007 Russian Booker Goes to Ilichevskii

Aleksandr Ilichevskii (Alexander Ilichevsky) won the 2007 Russian Booker prize for his novel Matisse, acing out Liudmila Ulitskaya’s Даниэль Штайн, переводчик (Daniel Stein, Translator), which won the Big Book prize in late November. Ilichevskii received $20,000 for his efforts.

Ulitskaya is, by far, the best known of the six finalists, and this analytical piece in the English Moscow News, by Vladimir Kozlov, summarizes the Booker’s “identity crisis.” I'm sure the Booker's focus on works by relatively obscure writers is one reason you shouldn't expect (m)any of the finalists to be translated soon: usually only two or three of a year’s finalists seem to appear in English. The inaugural prize was awarded in 1992.

The remaining 2007 finalists, each of whom received $2,000 for being named to the Booker short list, are:

Andrei Dmitriev for Бухта радости (Bay of Hope)

Aleks Tarn for Бог не играет в кости (God Doesn’t Play Dice)

Iurii Maletskii for Конец иглы (The Point of the Needle)

I’ve only read works by Ulitskaya and Dmitriev. Some of my thoughts on Ulitskaya’s books are on this page.

Dmitriev’s writing can be quite dense, laden with literary and religious references and symbolism, but the three novellas that I read differed so much in style that I’d be afraid to generalize anything about his writing. This Iowa State page includes excellent analysis. Dmitriev’s (A Turn in the River), the most difficult of the three novellas that I read, was a Booker finalist in 1996.

Edit, January 8, 2008: Here is an English-language summary of Ulitskaya's Daniel Shtein.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I saw this post in which you refer to my comment in the Moscow News paper.
    By the way, if you're interested in contemporary Russian fiction, you may want to check out my stuff at