Sunday, November 9, 2014

Potpourri: NOS(E) Finalists for 2014 & Read Russia Award Submissions & NYT Book Reviews

I’m slow yet again with my news about NOS(E)… the 2014 finalists were announced in late October. According to a piece in Аргументы и факты-Красноярск, Sorokin’s Tellurium was a heavy jury favorite, the Aleksievich and Freidensson books caused heated debate, and Rafeenko’s book presages events in eastern Ukraine. You can read any of the books from the NOS(E) short or long list and vote for a favorite, here. Here are the finalists, listed in Russian alphabetical order:

  • Svetlana Aleksievich’s Время сэконд хэнд (See Second-Hand Time for a detailed description and a list of translations). Nonfiction about Russia’s post-Soviet history. 
  • Linor Goralik’s Это называется так (This Is What It’s Called or some similar combination of words…). Short stories and a play.
  • Maksim Gureev’s Покоритель орнамента (Conqueror of Ornamentation? The title phrase is in the text but…). A mixture of the here-and-now and historical times… apparently involving a rug at a Crimean museum.
  • Margarita Meklina’s Вместе со всеми (Along With Everyone) Short stories.
  • Aleksandr Mil’shtein’s Параллельная акция (A Parallel Action). A “novel-palimpsest,” according to this review.
  • VladimirRafeenko’s Демон Декарта (Descartes’s Demon). About a man who’s reborn multiple times, wandering the world and wanting to choose one life/fate for himself. This book looks particularly interesting.
  • Vladimir Sorokin’s Теллурия (Tellurium). On my NatsBest long list post, I wrote: A polyphonic novel in 50 highly varying chapters. Also shortlisted for this year’s National Bestseller and Big Book awards.
  • Aleksei Tsvetkov’s Король утопленников (King of the Drowned). Prose texts arranged by size… the first takes up less than a half a page, the last is around 80 pages long. NB: This book was not written by the poet named Aleksei Tsvetkov. This book recently won an Andrei Bely Prize. I think it’s one of the most interesting-looking books on the list.
  • Tatyana Freidensson’s Дети Третьего рейха (Children of the Third Reich). Nonfiction written by a journalist.

Read Russia Award Submissions. One of you wrote to me recently asking about submission information for the 2015 Read Russia Prize. I knew nothing about the current award season at the time but now, thanks to a Facebook post, here’s a link to everything everyone needs to know. I’m especially happy to see there are now four categories for the English-language award.

Bonus Book Review Links! I’ve been woefully lax about posting links to reviews of books published in translation or related to Russia… The October 24, 2014, issue of The New York Times Book Review includes Christopher Rice’s “Killer Company,” which includes a mini-review of Sergey Kuznetsov’s Butterfly Skin, which was translated by Andrew Bromfield and published by Titan. Titan uses words like “gruesome” and “pathological” in its description, and Rice includes this sentence: “The result is a sustained look into the culture of Russian Internet journalism that should appeal to readers who like their thrillers strewn with journalistic details that don’t belong in evidence bags.” I was even happier to see that the November 7, 2014, issue of the Times Book Review contains Rich Cohen’s full-length review of Eugene Yelchin’s Arcady’s Goal, about a soccer-playing Russian boy whose parents are enemies of the people. I’ve read—and thoroughly enjoyed—a large chunk of the book and can’t help but agree with Cohen that, “The language is taut and dramatic. The illustrations are moody, stark and beautiful.” Yelchin packs an astounding amount of emotion and history into his taut writing.

Up Next. All those books I keep promising to write about, but which keep piling up, though I’m glad to have them waiting: Zakhar Prilepin’s The Cloister, with its hundreds of pages and small type, will definitely take some time. Thus far, I’m finding it compulsively readable… I have a slew of good books to write about: Evgeny Vodolazkin’s first novel, Solovyov and Larionov, Marina Stepnova’s Italian Lessons, and Viktor Remizov’s Ashes and Dust. Plus another slew of books I’ve been reading in English. Also: Big Book winners and a trip report about the American Literary Translators Association conference, coming up this week: I’ll be on my way to Milwaukee and the Polar Vortex soon. Brrr!

Disclaimers: The usual, including the fact that I work on occasional projects for Read Russia.


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