Monday, March 1, 2010

The 2010 National Bestseller Award’s Long, Long List

This year’s National Bestseller long list truly lives up to its name: it contains 53 nominations, though overlap means there are fewer than 53 nominees. My favorite part of the NatsBest long list is that it tells which writers, publishers, agents, and other “experts” nominated which books. The prize will be awarded in June. Here are some of the notable titles:

Roman Senchin’s Елтышевы (The Yeltyshevs) (beginning) (end) was the most popular book on the list, with four nominations. Senchin’s novel, which chronicles a family’s decline in a jobless Russian village, was a finalist for the 2009 Booker. I’ll be writing about The Yeltyshevs soon.

I’ll translate Vasilii Avchenko’s title Правый руль as Wheel on the Right because the book is a “documentary novel” about the love of drivers in the Russian Far East for used cars imported from Japan. Having ridden in many such cars, including on Sakhalin Island, the book sounds intriguing. Two nominations.

Andrei Astvatsaturov’s Люди в голом (People in the Nude), also nominated twice, was a NOSE prize finalist. (Summary here.)

I love the title of Olga Novikova’s Гуру и зомби (The Guru and the Zombie), another double nominee, though the descriptions sound a little generic: a domineering man is surrounded by admirers, including a woman who’s ready to do anything for him.

Mikhail Gigolashvili’s Чертово колесо (The Devil’s Wheel) looks at crime and drug trafficking in post-Soviet Georgia during the 1980s. Publisher Ad Marginem’s Web site has the first five chapters in PDF here. This is a big book -- 784 pages -- but the beginning is written very simply. Two nominations.

I also noted Viktor Pelevin’s new book, t, with one nomination: martial arts master meets Kabbalah demon who claims to have created him and the world. One more: Mikhail Uspenskii’s Райская машина (The Heavenly Machine [or Car?]), a dystopian-sounding book about a man who comes back into the world after being in the taiga for several years, only to find that UN troops have occupied Russia. One of my Russian friends read it a couple months ago and still can’t stop talking about it.


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