Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More News on Awards: Belkin Short List & NatsBest Long List

The Belkin Prize, which recognizes long stories/novellas, announced its short list last week, something I somehow missed—we’ll just blame that on blizzard preparations—until I saw a post on the blog known as Заметил просто.

Almost all the Belkin finalists are new to me—the jury, led by Yury Buida, skipped over known nominees like Zakhar Prilepin and Roman Senchin—but virtual introductions are what endeared Belkin to me in the first place. Something else to like: all the nominated works are available on Журнальный зал. (Заметил просто made things easy for me by including all the links in his post.) The winner will be named during Maslenitsa in the atrium of the Pushkin Museum. If you, like me, aren’t up on your Maslenitsa calendar, it’s March 11-17 this year. Meaning it’s almost time for some bliny.

Here’s the Belkin short list in Russian alphabetical order, by surname:

Dmitrii Vereshchagin’s Заманиловка (Oh my… never a dull moment with titles. The title word, zamanilovka, was new to me: it can refer to exaggerations, often inflated advertising claims intended to lure someone in, so perhaps something like “bait and switch” or “scam” could work, depending on context. A couple of online dictionaries list it as “teaser,” though that sounds milder than the slang dictionary I checked… and the uses in the story seem, at least on first glance, to vary. Anyway, this novella begins with Stalin appearing in the narrator’s dream…)

Dmitrii Ishchenko’s Териберка (Teriberka, a geographical name, ha!, for a small town on the shore of the Barents Sea. This sounds like my kind of geographical setting.)
Irina Povolotskaia’s Пациент и Гомеопат (The Patient and the Homeopath)

Gennadii Prashkevich’s Упячка-25 (Upyachka-25… yet another quirky one! Upyachka is the name of painfully stupid Russian Web site… “upyachka” is even listed on Urban Dictionary, with two definitions.)

Vladimir Kholodov’s Шанс (Chance, I’ll go with the easiest possible translation, the path of least resistance after Upyachka.)

Meanwhile, in The Land of the National Bestseller Award, there are so many titles on the long list that I could just cherry-pick the ones that are easy to translate! I’ll mention a few… First off, it’s easy to notice that Eduard Limonov’s В Сырах (In Syry) was nominated more times than any other book. Three. Limonov, who’s pretty well-known thanks to decades of writing and rabblerousing, isn’t exactly in need of a National Bestseller award to “wake up famous.” I noticed two other writers with more than one nomination: Platon Besedin for Книга греха (The/A Book of Sin) and Olga Novikova for Каждый убивал (Each One Killed). Two books are already on my shelf: Yevgenii Vodolazkin’s Лавр (literally Laurel but known as Brother Laurus for translation purposes) and Igor Savelyev’s Терешкова летит на Марс (Tereshkova is Flying to Mars, which is coming out in Amanda Love Darragh’s translation this year, from Glas, as Mission to Mars). There are also a few writers I’ve read before: Viktor Martinovich was nominated for Сфагнум (Sphagnum, which I never realized was spelled quite this way in English, thanks, NatsBest…) and Il’ia Boiashov was nominated for Эдем (Eden). And I’ve read one story in Alexander Snegirev’s collection, Чувство вины (Guilt Feeling/Feeling of Guilt): “The Internal Enemy,” which I summed up here. Beyond those names and a few I’d heard of but never read or read very little of—e.g. Igor Sakhnovskii, Vladimir Kozlov, Anna Matveeva, and Sergei Nosov—around half the list is new to me.

For more on NatsBest: the long list, the nominator list, and commentary from NatsBest head Viktor Toporov that, among other things, notes a revenge of the complex over the simple. And a near absence of nonfiction. Yes, I’ve way oversimplified. The short list will be out on April 16 and the winner will be named on June 2.

Disclaimer: The usual.

Up Next: Mikhail Butov’s Freedom. Then Grigory Danilevsky’s Princess Tarakanova, probably together with Vasily Grossman’s Armenian Sketchbook.


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