Sunday, October 1, 2017

The 2017 NOS Award Longlist

The NOS Award, to which I often add a silent E, announced its twenty-book longlist (not-so) recently (anymore); the shortlist will be debated and announced on November 2. Although (all too) many of these longlisters repeat from the NatsBest, Big Book, and Yasnaya Polyana finalist lists, there are a few unfamiliar titles and authors.

First off, the repeats, who are numerous enough (nine out of twenty!) that I’ll just list them by name in one paragraph: Aleksandr Brener, Mikhail Gigolashvili, Lev Danilkin, Vladimir Medvedev, Viktor Pelevin, Andrei Rubanov, German Sadulaev, Aleksei Sal’nikov, and Andrei Filimonov. At least a few others are veterans of multiple longlists: Olga Breininger, Dmitrii Novikov, and Anna Tugareva.

Three of the remaining eight names are very familiar—Vladimir Sorokin and his Manaraga (previous post), best-seller Dmitrii Glukhovsky and his Текст (Text), and Elena Chizhova with her Китаист (The China Specialist, perhaps?)—so that leaves a grand total of five books and authors I hadn’t heard of. Descriptions of most of their books are rather vague…

  • Sana Valiulina’s Не боюсь Синей Бороды (I’m Not Afraid of Bluebeard, that translation should be correct but I’m keeping it even it isn’t!). Set in Estonia, from the 1970s to the present day. This book interests me the most of these five.
  • Aleksei Zikmund’s Битва Августа (August’s Battle?). ?? This one’s especially mysterious.
  • Viktor Ivaniv’s Конец Покемаря (The End of Pokemar) (part of it, which, alas, does not contain the mysterious Pokemar’… which has to do with napping and sleepyheadness and is partially explained here, though I suspect there may be more to the story…), a posthumous book of collected works.
  • Andrei Levkin’s Дым внутрь погоды (The Smoke Within the Weather). Also mysterious! Prose written by a Russian who lives in Latvia; the book was published in a bilingual edition.
  • Stanislav Snytko’s Белая кисть (White Hand? (or maybe Paintbrush? or even both?)). Apparently very brief texts with the intended effect of cinematic shots.

Disclaimers: The usual. The NOS Award is a program of the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation. The foundation also runs the Transcript grant program, which has supported many of my translations.

Up next: Medvedev’s Zahhak. Sukhbat Aflatuni’s Tashkent Novel, which I’ve been enjoying for the lovely writing. Yasnaya Polyana Award winners, which I’ll post about briefly when they’re announced since I’ll be traveling. Fall trip report about the ALTA literary translator conference and the Frankfurt Book Fair. I’d hoped to post about Zahhak before the travel but, well… I’m feeling considerable sleepyheadedness myself as I finish everything up!


  1. Ooh, I've got a bit of a head start on you (for the first and last time ever, I'm sure)! I've just been in the Russian Far East for ten days, and spent a considerable proportion of my time scouring bookshops, mostly for Заххок, which from your descriptions sounds fantastic.

    I had no luck finding it, though, so, determined to buy at least something, I picked up Не боюсь синей бороды. I'm about 70 pages in, and I thought it started really well but quickly got bogged down in long speeches about the moral failings of the Soviet Union, all reported verbatim by the young girl narrator. I also suspect it's another of those episodic novels, rather than a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

    I'll persevere for a bit longer, because there are still some really lovely bits about the Estonian village and its various inhabitants, but I have a feeling I'll be back with Чертого Колесо before long.

    1. Thank you for this report, Philip! Though I'm sorry to hear about the book: I do appreciate a good, solid narrative arc. On the bright side, it sounds like you're enjoying Чертово колесо. I hope so, anyway.

      I also hope you had a great trip to the RFE! I had an all-too-quick trip there many years ago and especially loved Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: it was so nice to be on/in the ocean after feeling landlocked for so long. Happy reading!

    2. I live in Tokyo, so it was just a short hop to Vladivostok, and from there a night on the train to Khabarovsk.

      Vladivostok isn't much of a looker, but had a real buzz about it, whereas Khabarovsk was much more beautiful but also more stately and calm. I really liked them both.

    3. How nice that Vladivostok is such a short trip, Philip! I've never been to either Vladivostok or Khabarovsk -- only quick stays in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Yakutsk, and Magadan -- but have always heard good things about both cities. Of course the important thing is that you were able to go to bookstores!