Sunday, April 11, 2010

Russian Literature at the London Book Fair

I’m very excited to be heading to London soon for the London Book Fair and a morning-to-night program of Russian literature events organized by Academia Rossica! Academia Rossica calls this year’s program focus “fantasy and magical realism,” an aptly broad description that fits the diverse writers and critics who will speak and/or read: Dmitry Bykov, Lev Danilkin, Maria Galina, Sergei Lukyanenko, Olga Slavnikova, and Vladimir Sharov.

The schedule also includes seminar discussions on the Russian publishing market and literary translation. Russian programs at the book fair itself are listed here (click on the phrases at the top of the sidebar for full details), and there is a list of evening readings here. I’m especially looking forward to the “Voices from the Future – The Debut Prize for New Russian Writers” session on the 20th: I translated a few short pieces for Squaring the Circle, an anthology published by Glas that collects work by winners of the Debut Prize.

This week I’ll post two pieces related to writers who will be at the book fair: thoughts on Bykov’s ЖД (recently released in translation as Living Souls) plus an interview with Marian Schwartz, who translated Slavnikova’s 2017.

Let me know if you’ll be at the book fair and would like to meet up… or if you have a question for one of the writers. I’ll see what I can do to get answers!


  1. Gosh, I'm very jealous! I'd love to go - had I still been in London I'd definitely have been there. Sounds like a great program and I'm very impressed by all the things Academica Rossica has to offer (including their translation competiton - what a great idea).

    I hope you have a terrific time - enjoy London as well as the fair :)

  2. I'm jealous too, and I look forward to your report.

  3. Thanks, cat and Languagehat, for your notes.

    Cat, you're so right about all Academia Rossica's programs -- I can't believe how much they have on the schedule for this year's Russian Literature Week. As for non-fair events, I'm looking forward to seeing an old friend or two and visiting museums and galleries before the fair -- the "Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s" exhibit looks particularly good.

    Languagehat, I'm hoping to post during the fair, though I'm not sure I'll have much time. I'll have a long plane ride home to write, though...

  4. Hope to have the chance to meet you there, Lisa. I'll certainly be at the translation panels and the Debut one. You (and your readers) may be interested in a short radio item I took part in yesterday on the alleged rush of Russian dystopian novels in translation - which I don't personally find very dystopian...
    It starts at about minute 36 of the broadcast.

  5. I'm looking forward to meeting you next week at the book fair, Oliver! Thank you very much for including the link to the BBC radio piece: I enjoyed listening, particularly since I agree that "dystopian" is an overused label. I confess that I've been guilty of abusing it, though I do try not to!

    As an FYI to others: the interview lasts about 10 minutes and is well worth listening to.

  6. Exciting, Lisa!

    On my summer reading list is Elif Batuman's new book, and War and Peace (yes, it's true, I've not read it - but it just came from Amazon!). Also, there's a new film premiering at Film Forum here, a version of Chekhov's THE DUEL, which I'm going to hopefully see next week.

    Have a great time in London (fish and chips, yum).

  7. Sonya, I'm very excited to hear what you think about War and Peace -- that book is so much fun! Batuman's The Possessed sounds like fun, too. Will you be writing about either book for The Millions?

    Yes, I am excited about London and will definitely have to try some fish and chips -- I love it here but somehow never ordered in during my previous travels!

  8. Perhaps you could talk to some of the folks from the publishing market to see if there's any such thing as a Russian YA novel? Have a great time, and don't let the volcanic ash get you down.

  9. Thank you for the note, Shelley! I'm now hoping to make it to the second half of the book fair... we'll see if I can fly out on Monday. If all goes well, I'll try to find something out about YA books. It's an interesting question.