Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chizhova Wins Russian Booker reports that Elena Chizhova won the 2009 Russian Booker prize for her novel Время женщин (A Time of Women). It appears that the book has only been published in journal form, in the March 2009 issue of Звезда (Star). Unfortunately, it’s not available in the online version of the journal. Chizhova was also a Booker finalist in 2003 and 2005.

Here’s a brief and simplified summary based on a review in the newspaper Kommersant: in the early 1960s, three older women in a Leningrad communal apartment raise the illegitimate and mute daughter of their neighbor, a factory worker who learns she is ill with cancer. The review, generally positive, calls it a story that’s “heartrending and tragic – with a special Soviet tragic element.”

Update, from March 6, 2010: A brief post about an article in the New York Times about Chizhova.


  1. Dear Lisa,

    the Booker Prize! Finally! Well, it seems that most of the winners of the Booker have this Stalinist spirit.

  2. Thanks, Deisoca, for your note. I'm not sure how overtly the winning book addresses history or the Stalin era, but it sounds like the setting certainly lends itself to looking at the remnants of the "spirit" you mention. Chizhova said she developed the book because of her curiosity about why people lack a historical memory.

    Predictably, the Booker backlash has already begun... Roman Senchin's book, Елтышевы (The Yeltyshevs), seems to have been a favorite for some observers, and Kommersant writes that Iusefovich's Журавли и карлики (Cranes and Pygmies/Dwarfs) was a favorite until it won the Big Book. (I wonder: What's so wrong with a good book winning two major prizes?) I'm looking forward to reading Senchin's book when a friend brings it from Moscow next month. And who knows when Chizhova's book will be available in actual book form! For better or worse, the Booker people said they wanted to give the prize to a little-known author that they believe deserves more attention.

  3. This is something that they've been doing for a while already. Rebember that Pelevin never won the Bookker because he had already won the Little Booker?
    I think at least they're trying to open new horizons for some unknown writers.