Saturday, September 26, 2015

Another Long List: NOSE

Well, another week, another long list: this week it’s the НОС/NOSE Award long list, though this time I’m reporting on said list in a timely fashion. In other NOSE news, NOSE has a new jury this year, and most members aren’t writers, critics, or other representatives of the literary profession (whatever that means), though they’re all somehow involved in the arts, journalism, or oral history. I’m still trying to figure NOSE out so will be interested to see how this season goes. For starters, though, I can say the list is yet another a mishmash of books.

Here’s the entire nineteen-book long list, in the order NOSE presents it. I had just the kind of week that makes me want to go through a long list, just for kicks (ha!), partly so I can collect links to reviews to read later… for now, I haven’t delved into each title to see how interested I am. And I do mean “delved”: one thing I’ve noticed while sorting through this list of books is that publishers’ descriptions seem to be getting vaguer and vaguer (meaning less and less useful) by the minute.

  • Aleksandr Ilyanen: Пенсия (Pension). According to the book’s description, this is another novel about a nonexistent Petersburg; there’s lots of language play but the pension is literal. Apparently an odd love story. Igor Gulin’s review on Kommersant. Author interview on
  • A. Nune: Дневник для друзей (A Diary for Friends). (excerpt) Based on an actual diary written while spending time in a hospice in East Berlin.
  • Polina Barskova: Живые картинки (Living Pictures) is a book of prose by a poet, a collection of twelve pieces that came out of Barskova’s research into the history of the Leningrad blockade (excerpt). Knowing Polina’s dedication to this subject, I can’t imagine that the book isn’t interesting. Also on the NatsBest long list.
  • Aleksandra [sic? I think this should be Tatiana] Bogatyreva: Марианская впадинa (The Mariana Trench). I read this novella/long story in the journal Искусство кино a year or so ago.
  • Aleksandr Ilichevsky: Справа налево (From Right to Left). An essay collection. (an example)
  • Platon Besedin: Учитель (The Teacher) is apparently a novel about a Ukrainian boy, the first book in a tetralogy (!). (Mitya Samoilov’s NatsBest Big Jury review). A veteran longlister (NatsBest, Booker).
  • Vadim Levental: Комната страха (House of Fears, per the cover). A short story collection by the author of Masha Regina, my translation of which is coming in spring 2016.
  • Aleksei Tsvetkov: Маркс, Маркс левой (Marx, Marx [with your] left, I’d say, playing on a song title from Наутилус Помпилиус, (here if you want to listen), where the phrase has “марш” (“march”) instead of “Marx.” That song brings back memories!) Tsvetkov won last year’s NOSE.
  • Danila Zaitsev: Повесть и житие Данилы Терентьевича Зайцева (The Life and Tale of Danila Terentyevich Zaitsev). In which a Russian Old Believer born in China and living in Argentina tells his story. Already a Yasnaya Polyana Award finalist and Booker longlister.
  • Igor Levshin: Петруша и комар (Petrusha and the Mosquito). A debut short story collection. (excerpt)
  • V. Gureev (a.k.a. Maksim Gureev?): Калугадва (Kalugatwo). Apparently a novella originally published in a journal in 1997 (!) by one Maksim Gureev.(Im so confused!)
  • Andrei Bychkov: На золотых дождях (Literally, In Golden Rains, though this Russian phrase can mean all sorts of things, including gobs of cash or golden showers.). (excerpt) Apparently about forbidden love between family members; I can’t quite figure this out even after Evgenii Lesin’s review. In a book where one of the characters is named Lobachevsky, pretty much all bets are off until reading everything.
  • Andrei Astvatsaturov: Осень в карманах (Autumn in (Our?) Pockets). A novel in stories set in Petersburg and Paris.
  • Maria Golovanivskaya: Пангея (Pangea). Apparently a historical fantasy novel (or dystopia?) in brief stories/episodes; a cast of over a hundred characters… A long review that I’m saving for later. And another.
  • Ekaterina Margolis: Следы на воде (perhaps Ripples in the Water? or maybe the wake behind a boat or, say, a gondola?). An autobiographical book with Venice. And Moscow. And the “river of human lives,” as the book’s description says. (excerpt)
  • Pavel Nerler: Осип Мандельштам и его солагерники (Osip Mandelshtam and His Campmates, though “campmates” sounds rather too cheery). About the last twenty months in Mandelshtam’s life. (excerpts)
  • Roman Senchin: Зона затопления (Flood Zone). A 2015 Big Book Award and Yasnaya Polyana Award finalist and Booker longlister; a new take on themes from Valentin Rasputin’s Farewell to Matyora: a village is about to be flooded for a hydroelectric plant. Not my favorite Senchin.
  • Guzel’ Yakhina: Зулейха открывает глаза (Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes). Another Big Book and Yasnaya Polyana finalist (previous post) that’s also on the Booker long list; I loved translating excerpts for Yakhina’s literary agency. A historical novel in which a kulak woman is exiled.
  • Maks Nevoloshin: Шла Шаша по соше (Hmm, this title is a corrupted version of a tongue twister, in which Sasha walks along a roadway. Instead of “Shla Sasha po shosse” the title is “Shla Shasha po soshe.”). In any case, it’s a story collection.

Disclaimers: The usual.

Up Next: Lots of books! More books from the Big Book finalist list, including Boris Yekimov’s Autumn in Zadon’e, which I finished but didn’t like very much (at all), and Anna Matveeva’s story collection Девять девяностых (Nine from the Nineties), which I’m finishing. Also: Narine Abgaryan’s People Who Are Always With Me.


  1. So exciting to read these synopses! Makes me wish I had more time to read. But why doesn't НОС like poetry? Poets are often nominated (and even win, like Lev Rubinstein), but, alas, not with books of poems.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Jamie Olson! I sure wish I had more time to read, too! НОС, for better or worse, is a prose-only award, hence no poetry on the long list. I'm only reading as a jury member (for Big Book, not НОС) for the first time this year but can say it's difficult (nearly impossible!) enough to try to balance and assess short stories, biography, and various types of novels without adding poetry to the mix.

      That said, I think it's too bad there aren't more high-profile awards for poetry. I think it's great, for example, that Amelin won the Solzhenitsyn Award, but wish there were more (or just more noticeable, I'm not sure?) prizes that recognize poets.