Sunday, April 18, 2010

Long List for the 2010 Big Book Award

I’m a few days late writing about the long list for this year’s Big Book award: the 49 nominees, in book, journal, or manuscript form, were announced on the 15th, the day I was supposed to fly to London for the London Book Fair. Despite the distraction and my disappointment, I’m feeling very fortunate I’m at home rather than stranded in a place far, far way. I have a reservation for tomorrow, but it’s very unlikely to fly, so I’m already thinking about fun literature-related projects for the next week or so… the interview with translator Marian Schwartz will go up soon, as will a post about two science fiction/fantasy pieces.

So, on to the list! Some nominees repeat from the National Bestseller long list: Vasilii Avchenko’s Правый руль (Wheel on the Right), Mikhail Gigolashvili’s Чертово колесо (The Devil’s Wheel) (5 глав из романа), and Viktor Pelevin’s t, which I give points because I don’t have to attempt to translate the title without context. Roman Senchin’s Елтышевы (The Yeltyshevs), a Booker finalist, is also on the list (previous post).

Books from writers I’ve read in the past include Margarita Khemlin’s Клоцвог (Klotsvog), Dina Rubina’s Белая голубка Кордовы (The White Dove of Cordova), and German Sadulaev’s Шалинский рейд (The Raid on Shali) (начало окончание), which is about Chechnia. Seeing Vladimir Voinovich’s Автопортрет. Роман моей жизни (A Self-Portrait. A Novel of My Life) on the list felt like a reminder about an old friend, and Счастье возможно: Роман нашего времени (Happiness Is Possible: A Novel of Our Time), by Oleg Zaionchkovskii, nudged me that several people have recommended the author (фрагменты романа).

Then there are Bakhyt Kenzheev’s Обрезание пасынков (Pruning the Shoots), which two friends liked quite a lot, Vladimir Kozlov’s СССР. Дневник пацана с окраины (edit: translator Andrea Gregovich is calling this one CCCP, The Diary of a Kid on the Outskirts), and Zakhar Prilepin’s nonfiction book about Leonid Leonov.

The list of manuscripts feels particularly mysterious thanks to the use of numbers instead of author names plus titles like Христос был женщиной (Christ Was a Woman) (manuscript no. 281, evidently from Olga Novikova), ЛЕВ ТОЛСТОЙ: бегство из рая (LEV TOLSTOY: Escape From Heaven) (manuscript no. 306, apparently from Pavel Basinskii), and Когда был Ленин мумией (When Lenin Was a Mummy) (manuscript no. 51, seemingly excerpted in the magazine Патрон).


  1. Someone stole my title, "Escape from Heaven"? (

  2. But in the case of the Russian book, I think "Escape from Paradise" might be better.

  3. Sorry, J Neil! As Languagehat notes, there are several ways the title could be translated... without reading the book, it's difficult to know which words work best.