Sunday, May 8, 2011

Old News Is Good News

As has become my not-so-good habit, I’ve been hoarding news…

1. Marina Palei won the Russian Prize (Русская премия) recently for her novel Хор (The Chorus/Choir), which is also on this year’s Big Book long list. Many of Palei’s other texts are available on her Web site. Iurii Serebrianskii won the short prose prize for “Destination. Дорожная пастораль” (“Destination. A Road Pastorale”), and Natal’ia Gorbanevskaia won the poetry award. The Russian Prize is awarded to writers outside Russia who write in Russian; background is available here. [Update: For more, in Russian, on the Russian Prize, here's an interview with the prize's coordinator.]

2. A Московские Новости interview with writer Oleg Pavlov mentions that Pavlov’s trilogy Повести последних дней (Tales of Recent Days) will be published in English translation by And Other Stories. The first two books of the trilogy, in an edition that Oleg kindly brought to London for me, are waiting on the Bookshelf. Pavlov’s interview answers are quite candid as he discusses presentations at the book fair, reactions to the Russian booth, and politic aspects of who goes abroad to fairs.

Pavlov also says only three social novels came out of the noughties: his own Asystole/Flatline, Zakhar Prilepin’s Sank’ya, and Roman Senchin’s The Yeltyshevs. I’m sure I’d think of another title or two to offer for consideration if I went through my blog archives but – given my admiration for (and work on) Senchin’s book, my appreciation for the difficult but very affecting Asystole, and Sank’ya’s up-close look at political opposition and violence – I would certainly agree that these three novels are some of the decade’s most important social prose. They form a bleak triptych of various types of post-Soviet social breakdowns and disconnects.

3. Meanwhile, the book fair circuit continues: Russia is the guest country at the Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino, which opens on giovedi, 12 maggio. And what better way to practice your Italian than reading the program? Some of the same writers who were in London – e.g. Liudmila Ulitskaya, Mikhail Elizarov, Zakhar Prilepin – will be there, as will Sasha Sokolov, Viktor Erofeev, and Julia Latinina. And film director Aleksandr Sokurov.

4. Finally, for those of you who will be in the New York area in late May: Causa Artium will host Olga Slavnikova in events on May 20, 22, and 25 in, respectively, Jersey City, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Marian Schwartz, who translated 2017, will participate in the event on May 25, in Manhattan. I’ll be there, too! Each Slavnikova event will be followed by a “New Faces, New Voices: Rising Stars of Russian Writing” program featuring four winners of the Debut Prize. I enjoyed hearing two of these writers speak in London so will make sure to have an extra afternoon coffee so I can stay for the second half of the evening. And stay awake after a day at Book Expo America. All the events are free. RSVP on Causa Artium’s Facebook listings, if you’d like.

Up Next: Aleksandr Snegirev’s Тщеславие (Vanity), then Mikhail Shishkin’s Венерин волос (Maidenhair).

Disclosures: Standard disclosures apply.


  1. This is the first I've heard of Marina Palei. Thank you for mentioning her and for the link. I've now visited her site and dipped into a few things, and I really like the way she writes.

    (Anonymous Anne Marie)

  2. Thank you for the comment, Anonymous Anne Marie! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying Palei's writing... I'd love to hear more about your impressions, when you have a chance.