Sunday, October 26, 2014

Yet More Awards: Yasnaya Polyana and Andrei Bely

I always seem to forget how many awards are awarded each autumn! I’m especially slow on the uptake this year… Beyond lots of translating, there’s been lots of book and bookshelf moving around here, though I have to admit that moving books is an oddly pleasant distraction, at least in small doses.

This year’s Yasnaya Polyana “XXI Century” award went to Arsen Titov for Тень Бехистунга (Behistun’s Shadow? The Shadow of Behistun?), a big, old-fashioned historical novel, apparently a trilogy, set during World War I. The “Childhood, Adolescence, Youth” award went to Roman Senchin for Чего вы хотите? (I’ll go with Whaddya Want?), which sounds like a very personal book—one of the three pieces is written from his daughter’s perspective—about growing up in contemporary Russia. The “Contemporary Classic” award went to Boris Yekimov for his 1999 long story/novella Pinochet. For more (in Russian) on this year’s winners: Lenta, ReadRate, and Prosto biblioblog.

Happy birthday (new style) to Andrei Bely!
The Andrei Bely Prize winners pique my interest more than this year’s Yasnaya Polyana winners. Two poets won this year. The poet I’m familiar with is Kirill Medvedev, who was recognized for Поход на мэрию, which I’ll call Attack on City Hall since that’s what the title poem is called in It’s No Good (Всё плохо), a book translated by the team of Keith Gessen, Mark Krotov, Cory Merrill, and Bela Shayevich. I wrote a bit about It’s No Good in this 2013 post; I’ve read more chunks of the book since then and enjoyed them, too. This year’s other poetry winner is Irina Shostakovskaya, for 2013-2014: the last year book.

The 2014 Bely Prize prose winner is Aleksei Tsvetkov, for Король утопленников (King of the Drowned). This book features prose texts arranged by size: the first takes up less than half a page, the last is around 80 pages long. Though the ordering of the stories seems gimmicky, the book looks rather appealing. King of the Drowned has already made the long list for the NOS(E) award; it was not written by the poet named Aleksei Tsvetkov. The Bely site includes names of winners in other award categories, including humanitarian research, translation, and criticism. The Bely shortlist is also available here; I somehow missed it when it was announced in September. The only shortlisted book I’ve read is a prose finalist: Serhij Zhadan’s absorbing Voroshilovgrad, which I read in Zaven Babloyan’s translation from the original Ukrainian.

Disclaimers: The usual.

Up Next: Books galore… Evgeny Vodolazkin’s first novel, Solovyov and Larionov, Marina Stepnova’s Italian Lessons, and Viktor Remizov’s Ashes and Dust. Plus a small pile of books I’ve been reading in English.


  1. It seems like I'm always complaining about titles, but Тень Бехистунга is very odd: Behistun is Бехистун, not Бехистунг -- as Natalia Gurevich writes here, "Кто такой Бехистунг? Гору Бехистун знаю, Бехистунга - не, не брал." Тень Бехистунга must represent some sort of pun or allusion, but what? (I'd be tempted to render it irresponsibly as "The Shadow of Behistongue.")

  2. Languagehat, yes, this one is rather odd... I mentioned this spelling difference in my Yasnaya Polyana shortlist post and should have copied that line in here, too. Nobody answered my appeal then! I still wonder about alternate spellings for Behistun but also like the idea of a pun in the title, particularly since parts of the book do take place in Persia... (Interview with Titov.) Ah, the mysteries of titles!

  3. Huh, I missed it that time around. But I'm confident it isn't an alternate spelling, and surely it's not just a mistake on Titov's part.