Friday, April 25, 2008

Six Finalists for Russian “National Bestseller” Awards

This year’s list of finalists for the Russian “National Bestseller” book awards is yet more proof that the contest’s name is something of a misnomer: Though some of the writers are familiar, don’t let the contest’s label let you think these writers sell truckloads of genre books like Ekaterina Vil'mont or Dar’ia Dontsova. The finalists:

Zakhar Prilepin for Грех (Sin), a collection of linked short stories. Prilepin’s blog entry about the nominations mentions that he’s been a “Natsbest” shortlistee three times. He’s been nominated for numerous other prizes, too, and Sin led voting for the Natsbest short list.

Prilepin’s Natsbest favorite is Anna Kozlova’s novel Люди с чистой совестью (People with a Clean Conscience), which he says he is crazy about after a nocturnal reading session in a café.

Andrei Turgenev (a.k.a. critic Viacheslav Kuritsyn) was nominated for Спать и верить: блокадный роман (To Sleep and Believe: A Blockade Novel (or perhaps A Blockade Romance… the title is ambiguous)), about Leningrad during World War 2.

Critic Lev Danilkin’s biography of Aleksandr Prokhanov, Человек с яйцом (Man with an Egg… I suspect a pun on “egg” here, since яйцо has also meant “testicle” since at least Pushkin’s era.), was also nominated. Prokhanov is a nationalist and novelist whose Господин Гексоген (Mr. Hexogen) won the National Bestseller award in 2002, though not without controversy.

Iurii Brigadir’s Мезенцефалон (Mesencephalon) was first published in a journal together with work by Evgenii Grishkovets, Dmitrii Bykov, and others.

Aleksandr Sekatsii’s novel about Chinese Medieval culture, Два ларца: бирюзовый и нефритовый (Two Boxes: Turquoise and Jade), rounds out the list.

Thanks to an Olympic athlete, the jury that will help determine the winner of Natsbest’s $10,000 prize may be better known to the general public than most of the nominees. Jury members: Igor Boiashov (last year’s winner), Marat Gel’man (art and political expert), Galina Dursthoff (literary agent), Emiliia Spivak (actress), Boris Fedorov (financier), Aleksei Yagudin (figure skater), and Il’ia Shtemler (writer). Rank-and-file readers can also vote for their favorites by SMS beginning on May 5, 2008.


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