Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yasnaya Polyana Laurels Go to Laurus

I was excited to learn (yesterday, sorry I’m a bit slow these days) that Evgenii Vodolazkin won the 2013 Yasnaya Polyana Award in the Twenty-First Century category for Лавр (Laurus), a book I enjoyed very, very much (previous post).

This year’s Childhood, Adolescence, Youth award went to Iurii Nechiporenko, for the story collection Смеяться и свистеть (To Laugh and Whistle), and Iurii Bondarev won the Modern Classic award for Батальоны просят огня (The Battalions Request Fire) and Последние залпы (The Last Salvoes), both about World War 2.

Disclaimers: I translated excerpts from Laurus. And I shamelessly borrowed the laurel pun in this post’s title from one of you.

Up Next: Oleg Zaionchkovskii’s Petrovich and Vadim Levental’s Masha Regina. Also, a trip report about the American Literary Translators Association conference: I’ll be heading to Bloomington, Indiana, next week. Among other ALTA things, I’ll read from my translation of Addendum to a Photo Album, by Vladislav Otroshenko, a jury member for the Yasnaya Polyana Award.


  1. Every time I see a mention of Bondarev I have the same two-part reaction: 1) "A fine war writer!" 2) "No, wait, I'm thinking of Baklanov, I've never read any Bondarev." I really should read him just so I can keep the two separate in my mind.

    1. It's funny how associations between two names can work like that! I can't really say I've read either Baklanov or Bondarev, having only read the beginning of a Bondarev novel (about a film director) that just didn't hit me at the time.

  2. Батальоны просят огня (The Battalions Request Fire)

    Not sure the translation gets the point across. The battalions in question are asking for artillery support.

  3. It's an appropriate translation, if not one that's immediately clear to the reader who doesn't spend a lot of time reading about wars. The other translations of the title I've seen are "The Battalions Are Asking for Fire" and "The Battalions Ask for Fire" (the book has never been translated, so there is no "official" version). You could make it clearer by saying "The Battalions Request Supporting Fire," but that's awfully wordy; I think it's OK as is.

  4. Thanks to both of you for the comments about the Bondarev title. Ah, titles! As Languagehat notes, the book hasn't been translated and a number of translations of the title are floating around. I chose this translation because it's concise and thus felt, to borrow Languagehat's word, appropriate. I don't read many war novels at all but The Battalions Request Fire felt very clear to me.