Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Database of Translations & Vasilii Aksyonov’s Death

Two quick notes for this rainy evening…

First, Three Percent, a blog about international literature, posted databases listing translated books of fiction and poetry that were published in English during 2008 and 2009. I won’t get too statistical on you, but 20 books translated from Russian to English were on the 2008 list; there are 11 for 2009. The databases are up-to-date as of July 1, 2009. Get your Excel databases here – there are multiple sheets per document, sorting information by country, language, and other characteristics.

The lists should be useful for anyone interested in Russian fiction: there were writers I’d never heard of, plus I learned about the compilation Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia, edited by Mikhail Iossel, and scheduled for release by Tin House in September 2009

In sadder news, writer Vasilii Aksyonov died yesterday; he was 76. Aksyonov suffered a stroke in January 2008 while he was driving. AFP’s obituary (here) outlines Aksyonov’s career and lists some of his best-known books. I might also suggest Остров Крым (The Island of Crimea), which I read about 20 years ago and remember as entertaining and imaginative satire. One of my Russian teachers always recommended Ожог (The Burn), which, I admit, I have still not read.

Aksyonov was, along with Andrei Bitov, Viktor Erofeev, Fazil Iskander, and Evgenii Popov, one of the editors of the 1979 literary “almanac” МетрОполь (MetrOpol’, with stress on the first o), a samizdat publication containing work by over 20 writers and artists. The Soviet Writers Union refused to publish it. The SovLit site contains some translated documents about the criticism that MetrOpol' drew.

Edit: The New York Times obituary for Vasilii Aksyonov (link)

Edit: The July 11, 2009, "Культунрый шок" show on Эхо Москвы honored Aksyonov's memory. link

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