Sunday, November 8, 2015

NOSE, the Short(list) Version

Well, dear readers, it’s time for a short NOSE post: the НОС/NOSE Award named its finalists in late October, when I was in Arizona enjoying sidewalk dining and wearing short sleeves. I thank the NOSE people for a nice, fitting shortlist to post this week since I came back from Tucson—where this year’s American Literary Translators Association conference was held—with a silly cold and probably couldn’t have put enough thoughts together for a real book post this week.

Here’s the seven-book shortlist for 2015. Perhaps what’s most interesting here is that there aren’t many repeaters: yes, Guzel Yakhina has already won the Prose of the Year and Yasnaya Polyana Awards and sure, Danila Zaitsev was also named a Yasnaya Polyana finalist, but I don’t think any of the other writers have been finalists for major awards this year. But stop the presses! I remembered just before posting that that’s simply not true: Polina Barskova’s book is a finalist for the Bely Award, for which the shortlists are here. Im happy to report that Lena Eltang’s Cartagena is on the prose shortlist, too. But I do ramble. Here’s the NOSE list!

  • Aleksandr Ilyanen: Пенсия (Pension). According to the book’s description, this is another novel about a nonexistent Petersburg; there’s lots of language play, though the pension is literal. Apparently an odd love story. Igor Gulin’s review on Kommersant. Author interview on Of the books completely new to me, this one intrigues me most, perhaps because of the Petersburg element.
  • 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.
  • Tatiana Bogatyreva: Марианская впадинa (The Mariana Trench). I read this novella/long story in the journal Искусство кино a year or so ago. (It didn’t make much of an impression, no pun intended.)
  • 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. A Yasnaya Polyana Award finalist and Booker longlister.
  • 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.
  • Guzel’ Yakhina: Зулейха открывает глаза (Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes). A Big Book and Booker finalist, as well as the 2015 Yasnaya Polyana winner; I loved translating excerpts for Yakhina’s literary agency. A historical novel in which a kulak woman is exiled. (previous post)

Disclaimers: The usual.

Up Next: So many 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). Also: Narine Abgaryan’s People Who Are Always With Me. And, of course, a trip report on the ALTA conference, which was tons of fun, as usual, with lots of Russian translators.


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