Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yasnaya Polyana Short Lists for 2013

The Yasnaya Polyana award announced its 2013 short lists for the “XXI Century” and “Childhood, Adolescence, Youth” awards on Tuesday. Here are the lists, in Russian alphabetical order by author. Winners will be announced on October 8.

XXI Century:
  • Evgeny Vodolazkin: Лавр (Laurus). Still one of my favorites; also a finalist for the Big Book and the National Bestseller.
  • Alisa Ganieva: Праздничная гора (Holiday Mountain). A novel about Dagestan… in which Dagestan becomes separate from Russia, resulting in problems and not-so-happy endings.
  • Aleksandr Kuznetsov-Tulianin: Идиот нашего времени (Idiot of Our Time). Kuznetsov-Tulianin is a new name for me. This is apparently a book about two men (former legislators) who look and think nearly identically but find very different post-Soviet paths for their lives.
  • Maya Kucherskaya: Тётя Мотя (Auntie Motya/Minna). Also a Big Book finalist.
  • Oleg Riabov: Четыре с лишним года. Военный дневник. (Four Years and Then Some. A War Diary). Fiction based on letters, diaries, and memories from World War 2.
  • Roman Senchin: Информация (The Information). I’m glad to see The Information finally make it to a shortlist: I think it’s been unjustly ignored/underrated. (Previous post)

Childhood, Adolescence, Youth:
  • Eduard Verkin: Облачный полк (The Cloud Regiment)
  • Maria Martirosova: Фотография на память (A Photograph as a Memento)
  • Iurii Nechiporenko: Смеяться и свистеть (To Laugh and Whistle)

Bonus Links! The New Yorker ran a fun piece by Reed Johnson about Russian translations of Catcher in the Rye. Johnson gets at a lot of my favorite translation topics—e.g. the perils of food words, projecting distinctive voices into other languages, and slang—in a way that makes literary translation sound and feel like a relatively normal human activity. That reminds me: On Monday, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article about retranslations, focusing largely on Anna Karenina. Enjoy!

Disclaimers: The usual, including having translated and/or met some of these writers, plus a Yasnaya Polyana juror.

Up next: Vadim Levental’s Masha Regina and Oleg Zaionchkovsky’s Petrovich.


  1. Eduard Verkin’s Облачный полк (The Cloud Regiment) takes on a new and very unusual rendition of the old story of the death of a Soviet war hero, a member of the guerilla group. It is a quite realistic book with a tiny mystical touch. It is a very sad book and a great read.

    Maria Martirosova’s Фотография на память (A Photograph as a Memento) is an account of the life in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the time of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict just before the Perestroika, and a story of an Armenian girl and her family. It is also about photography and its role in forming our memories. And again, it is a very sad book and a great read.

    Olga Bukhina

    1. Thank you so much, Olga, for these descriptions! Both these books sound very good, particularly the one set in Baku.