Saturday, June 25, 2022

Déjà Vu All Over Again: The 2022 Yasnaya Polyana Longlist

Another week, another award list. And another award list – this time it’s the Yasnaya Polyana longlist – that repeats many of the nominees found on previous award lists. But I shrug my shoulders (yet again!) since, well, awards and juries do what they do. Which is fine.

And so. This list contains thirty-seven books that fit many of the usual patterns. Thirteen of the titles (just over one third) were written by women. Twelve of them were published by Elena Shubina’s imprint at AST. Six of the thirty-seven books – by Belyakov, Danilov, Yermakov, Mamedov, Matveeva, and Sinitskaya – are on the 2022 Big Book shortlist. One – Shipingóv’s Stream (Стрим) – was shortlisted for the 2021 NatsBest and NOSE awards. Islam Khanipaev’s Типа я (Like, Me, perhaps?) was a 2021 NOSE finalist and a 2022 NatsBest finalist, though, alas, that NatsBest prize will never be awarded. And Yevgenia Nekrasova won the regional (“wanderer”) NOSE award for Кожа (Skin). I’m sure there are other repeaters that I could mention.

There are lots of other familiar names on the list: Alexander Ilichevsky, Andrei Volos, Alexander Snegirev, and Alla Gorbunova… But there are also a few names I’d never heard. And since the new-to-me writers (and publishers, too) are what I enjoy most about longlists, I’ll mention a few that arouse my curiosity:

  • Sakhib Shikhmirzaeva’s В ритме гоор (In the Goor Rhythm? “goor” is an Avar dance) sounds like a family saga set in Dagestan. Shikhmirzaeva mentions in an interview that Vladislav Otroshenko, a YP juror and one of my authors, admired the book early on.
  • Denis Sobelyov’s Воскрешение (Resurrection) sounds like an epic of a historical novel (928 pages!), looking at a brother and sister during the 1980s and 1990s (plus perhaps family history?) with settings all around the world.
  • Anastasia Astafyeva’s Для особого случая (maybe something like For a Special Case?) is a collection of short stories. Her surname is familiar because writer Viktor Astafyev is her father. The title story of the collection is here… may I’ll read it and resolve the question of the title!
  • Artem Lyakhovich’s Логово Змиево (The Zmiev Lair or somesuch, since Zmiev is apparently a toponym) sounds like a fantasy novel about a pianist who’s so caught up in his own world that he doesn’t notice a coup. Lyakhovich is a Ukrainian writer (primarily of children’s books – he’s won three Kniguru awards) and, yes, a pianist, too.

On that happy note, I’ll remind you that you can find this list of books on the Yasnaya Polyana site (with links to descriptions that are far better than mine!), here.

Disclaimers and Disclosures: The usual. Two of “my” authors are jurors for this award. I know some of the authors on the list.

Up Next: Yes, I will get to the books I’ve read! (I’d planned to start on that today… but then came this list.) Maybe I’ll start with the two on this list that I’ve read in full: Danilov’s Hey, Sasha! and Bogdanova’s Season of Poisoned Fruits. Both are very good.


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