Saturday, February 5, 2022

The 2022 National Bestseller Award Nominees/Longlist

Every year I write about how much I enjoy sifting through the National Bestseller Award’s list of nominees (a.k.a. the longlist), which usually consists of several dozen books, most of which I’d never heard of. This year’s list, announced yesterday, fits the usual pattern, though I think I’ve read more of the nominees than usual. Two! My next post, in fact, will likely be about those books, which were two of my favorites from 2021. There are forty-seven NatsBest nominators this year and it appears there are forty-seven books nominated, about fifteen of them written by women.

I’ll start with the two books I’ve already read in full:

  • Dmitry Danilov’s Саша, привет! (I hear this more as Hey, Sasha! than Hi, Sasha! for some reason) concerns a man who’s committed a moral crime and is being punished in an odd way. Danilov’s a favorite writer and the form, content, and absurdity of Hey, Sasha! hit me just right. 
  • Kirill Ryabov’s 777, about a man who gets instantly rich when an ATM goes haywire, made me laugh out loud more than just about anything else (other than maybe Ulysses?) I’ve read in recent years. Absurdity wins the day again. (And I learned that “777” denotes more than just cheap wine. Having never been to Vegas, I had no idea.)

I’ve also read two nominees in part:

  • Ksenia Burzhskaya’s Мой белый (My [Beloved Color] White, perhaps since white covers the whole spectrum?) is about a girl and her two mothers, who have broken up. I intend to finish reading.
  • Timur Valitov’s debut novel, Угловая комната (The Corner Room), is about a young man who returns to his native city after his father dies (previous post).

And then there are forty-three more… There are so many – including so many by authors I know and/or have read – that I picked a few pretty randomly by scrolling up and down the page and pointing at the screen (while looking away!). It’s quite a variety:

  • Having claimed randomness, I confess that I deviated on choosing this one: Sasha Filipenko’s Кремулятор (The Cremulator), which is in manuscript (and nominated by Vremya publisher Boris Pasternak), stood out because I had no idea what the title means, though the root is certainly a clue. Brrr!
  • Vera Bogdanova’s Сезон отравленных плодов (literally something like The Season of Poisoned Fruits, I guess) isn’t quite out yet, though it’s on the way; I have no idea what it’s about but after reading Bogdanova’s Pavel Zhang and Other River Creatures and translating a sample (previous post), I’m looking forward to it.
  • The description of Aleksandr Velin’s Сердце Демидина (The Heart of Demidin or Demidin’s Heart?) is a bit vague: it’s apparently about the late USSR with a heavy dose of (European) myth mixed in. The KGB is mentioned in early pages I looked at online. So: ?
  • Pavel Basinsky’s Подлинная история Анны Карениной (The Real Story of Anna Karenina) is apparently just what it purports to be.
  • Valery Pecheikin’s Стеклянный человек (literally The Glass Person) is described (in a Russian phrase that I’ve translated) as “splendid intellectual standup where the topic is life itself.” Apparently brief essays/vignettes (as in his previous book, which I have) with a play at the end.
  • Dasha Blagova’s Южный ветер (A Southern Wind? The Southerly Wind? Lots of options here…) is utterly mysterious; it’s only available in manuscript but a print version (with “18+” on the cover) is apparently on the way from a small publisher.
  • Finally, Tatyana Mlynchik’s Ловля молний на живца (hm, I think I’ll go for the easy way out, though it’s probably not very correct: The Human Lightning Rod) is about a schoolgirl with enough electricity in her body that she can charge phones and other devices.

Up Next: Danilov and Ryabov.

Disclaimers and Disclosures: The usual, including knowing some of the nominators and nominees and having received electronic versions of a few of these books from authors or agents.

2021-2022 NOS(E) Award Winners

The NOS(E) Award, run by the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, announced 2021’s award winners yesterday, in live debates. Oksana Vasyakina won the jury prize and the critics’ prize for her Рана (The Wound), which I think is very, very good (previous post). Meanwhile, Evgenia Nekrasova won the regional “Wanderer” prize (which wanders off to a new city each year) for Кожа (Skin). Finally, Vladimir Shpakov’s Пленники амальгамы (Prisoners of Amalgam, I think?) won the readers’ choice prize.

I think that pretty much sums up this year’s NOS(E) Award. I’d expected Vasyakina to win at least one jury award and it came as no surprise that she won both the regular jury prize and the critics’ prize. The Wound has really stayed with me. The Wound, by the way, is on the way in English translation, from Catapult and MacLehose, though I’m not sure who’s translating.

Up Next: National Bestseller Award longlist, a.k.a. National Bestseller Award nominees. Coming right up…

Disclaimers and Disclosures: Nothing but the usual. I did receive a PDF of The Wound as a member of the Big Book’s Literary Academy.