Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NatsBest’s 2013 Short List & The Poet Prize

If you’ve been looking for a chance to become a patron of the literary arts—make that the Russian literary arts—your chance has arrived… if, that is, you’d like to sponsor the Russian National Bestseller Award so the 2013 short list can yield a winner. That’s right: NatsBest narrowed its rather long long list into a short list yesterday but is looking for a sponsor to fund the prize. The NatsBest Web site says it will announce details for the 2013 “small jury” and finale if/when a sponsor turns up. Ouch.

So, with the hope that things work out, here’s the 2013 short list, which (of course!) contains a couple titles that are difficult to translate. I’ve included the points that the first jury awarded to each short-listed book.

  • Maxim Kantor: Красный свет (Red Light, though “свет can also mean “world,” so I suspect there’s some dual meaning here), 10 points. Kantor said in an interview last year (here) that the book is big, with three storylines (Russian, German, and British), and about twentieth-century history, including revolutions and wars. 
  • Evgenii Vodolazkin: Лавр (Laurus), 7 points. The only book on the list that I’ve read; I’ve drafted a post that I’ll finish soon. It’s especially hard to write because I loved the book… 
  • Il’dar Abuziarov: Мутабор (Mutabor, the Latin first-person singular future passive indicative of mūtō, according to Wiktionary, related to mutate and indicating change or transformation. “Mutabor” is used as a magic word in some stories, including Wilhelm Hauff’s “Caliph Stork.”), 6 points. This book is described as an intellectual chess detective novel, though Abuziarov sees it more as a political thriller. Either way, there’s a booktrailer
  • Sof’ia Kupriashina: Видоискательница (hmm, this title plays on the word for viewfinder, putting it in the feminine; it seems to lend itself to voyeuristic storytelling …), 6 points. This book is a short story collection. Kupriashina’s stories apparently often focus largely on society’s margins. But these stories aren’t, according to Kommersant’s Weekend commentator, chernukha. 
  • Olga Pogodina-Kuzmina: Власть мертвых (The Power of the Dead), 5 points. One NatsBest reader-reviewer, Mitya Samoilov, borrowed from the futurists and called this book a slap in the face of (the) public taste.  
  • Figl’-Migl’/Figgle-Miggle: Волки и медведи (Wolves and Bears), 5 points. A Petersburg novel.

Файл:Евтушенко Е. Автограф Харьков 20.04.1989 на книге где он соавтор. Выборы нардепов.jpgAs for the poetry award, reported yesterday that Yevgeny Yevtushenko won the Poet Prize. The Poet Prize is joint effort of the Society for Encouragement of Russian Poetry and Unified Energy Systems; this year’s award is a tidily funded $50,000. Lenta has more on the award here, in a commentary by poet Dmitrii Kuz’min, and Svobodnaya pressa has a piece by Vladimir Novikov here.

Disclosures: The usual.

Up Next: Vodolazkin’s Laurus, which I liked so much. And then Sergei Nosov’s very, very enjoyable Грачи улетели, which I guess I’ll call The Rooks Are Gone, to play on the title of Alexei Savrasov’s painting in which the rooks have returned.

Image: Yevtushenko’s signature, via Wikipedia.


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