Monday, September 7, 2015

The 2015 Yasnaya Polyana Award Shortlists

I’m very grateful to the Yasnaya Polyana Award organizers for posting shortlists for the “XXI Century” and “Childhood, Adolescence, Youth” awards so promptly today: it’s Labor Day and it’s hot, so I’m looking forward to going to the beach. With a book.

I’m forgoing links to online journals for the “XXI Century” list since all these books are available until late October, free of charge, on theBookmate site, which works very nicely. I’ve included some links for “Childhood, Adolescence, Youth” finalists, though. So, without further ado (but with apologies for the oddities in spacing)…

There are six “XXI Century” finalists, listed here in Russian alphabetical order, by author.

  • Aleksandr Grigorenko’s Мэбэт (Mebet). Mebet was a Big Book finalist in 2012 and I’ve had the book on my shelf, unread, ever since, though I’ve been meaning to give it a try. A novel set in the taiga.
  • Boris Yevseev’s Офирский скворец (The Ophir Starling). A historical novel in which a man teaches a starling to speak.
  • Danila Zaitsev’s 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.
  • Elena Radetskaias Нет имени тебе... (There Is No Name for You… (? Borrowing a Blok poem’s title? I feel like I’m missing something here…)) . Apparently a novel about three women, love, restlessness, and the search for happiness.
  • Roman Senchin’s Зона затопления (Flood Zone). A 2015 Big Book Award finalist; 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’s Зулейха открывает глаза (Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes). Another Big Book finalist, the only one so far that I’ve enjoyed... Im now enjoying it even more as I work on excerpts. A historical novel in which a kulak woman is exiled.

There are five books on the “Childhood, Adolescence, Youth” list:
  • Valerii Bylinskis Риф (Reef). A collection of stories and a novella.
  • Olga Gromovas Сахарный ребенок (The Sugar Kid). About growing up during the Stalin era. Olga Bukhina’s description of the book is here. I’ve heard lots of good things about this book from Olga and another friend. An excerpt on Snob.
  • Vecheslav Kazakevich’s Охота на майских жуков (Hunting for May Bugs, though I’m thoroughly confused about differences between May bugs and June bugs… a topic for another day!) About village life in the 1970s.
  • Yevgenii Mamontov’s Приключения Славки Щукина, или 33 рассказа про вранье (The Adventures of Slavka Shchukin, or 33 Stories about Lying). Some of the 33 stories are online here; the first is called “My Friend Dracula,” which is my kind of title.
  • Boris Minaev’s Мужской день (Men’s Day? A Day for Men?). A collection that brings all Minaev’s stories about a boy called Lyova, some never published before, into one book. I’ve read and enjoyed some of the stories. (A sample.)

Happy Labor Day to those who celebrate it! In haste...

Bonus links to an interview, in which I answer questions about my interest in Russian literature, markets for translation, and other related burning issues. You can read it in my Russian original (here on the Год литературы site) or in my English version (here on the Russia Beyond the Headlines site). Thanks to everyone who made this happen!

Disclaimers: The usual, including work on excerpts from Yakhina’s Zuleikha, translating two of the Yasnaya Polyana judges, etc.

Up Next: The afore-mentioned Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes, then other books from the Big Book Award list of finalists, including Boris Yekimov’s Autumn in Zadon’e.


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