Saturday, August 20, 2022

Yasnaya Polyana Award Finalists for 2022

Well, I’m back, with a very belated post about the Yasnaya Polyana Award shortlist! I suppose it’s fitting that my last post, which is almost two months old, is about the Yasnaya Polyana Award longlist…

Weeks (weeks!), have passed since this year’s YP finalists were announced, so I’ll get right to the list:

  • 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… I’m still meaning to read it and resolve the question of the title!
  • Sergei Belyakov’s Парижские мальчики в сталинской Москве (Parisian Boys in Stalinist Moscow) is apparently exactly what it purports to be: nonfiction about Parisian men (including Marina Tsvetaeva’s son, Georgy Yefron) and their life and times in Stalinist Moscow. This book is a Big Book finalist, too.
  • Dmitry Danilov’s Саша, привет! (Hey, Sasha!) (text) is the only book on the list that I’ve read in full. Danilov is a friend and a perennial favorite writer, and Hey, Sasha! is one of my favorite Danilov books. Hey, Sasha! concerns a man who’s committed a moral crime and is being punished in an odd way. Everything about the book hit me just right: form, content, and absurdity. And it just keeps feeling truer and truer… Sasha is also a Big Book finalist.
  • Kanta Ibragimov’s Маршал (The Marshal but not really…) takes place over nearly five or six decades, examining the deportation of Chechens to Central Asia and their subsequent return to Chechnya… as well as one figure’s (frequent?) dancing of the lezginka, which he calls the “marshal,” which (according to a reader’s review on LitRes) means “freedom” in Chechen. (In googling, I find “marsho” for “freedom” but maybe there’s some nuance to this, a different ending/suffix for the name of the dance?) It sounds like this book is nonfiction. (I find the publisher’s description a bit confusing!)
  • Anna Matveeva’s Каждые сто лет (Every Hundred Years) is told by two women in two different centuries; both keep diaries. And of course they will somehow meet.
  • Islam Khanipaev’s Типа я (Like, Me, perhaps?) was a NOSE Award finalist in 2021 and NatsBest finalist in 2022: it’s another diary, this time written by an eight-year-old boy.
  • Finally, Ivan Shipingóv’s Stream (Стрим) sounds like a polyphonic, “verbatim” book about life among young (Russian) adults. Given that Shipingov is a screenwriter, this may be a book where the verbatim approach actually works. Stream has been waiting in my book cart for all too long – more than a year? – though I can still honestly say I’m looking forward to reading it.

The winners will be announced on September 16. I’m hoping to post about some books before then… This has been my Year of Unexpected Events and the most recent installment, several weeks ago, included major surgery for one of our cats. Fortunately it finally feels like things are starting to return to some semblance of normal (or maybe “normal”?) at our house. I learned all sorts of interesting things from this episode of Diary of a Cat Mom. Top revelation: Cellar crickets, Edwina’s favorite prey and snack, are now forbidden because they can carry nasty parasites that wreak havoc on a cat’s stomach! It was also interesting to hear from Edwina’s surgeon that Edwina won’t miss her spleen. For now, I’m crossing my fingers for quieter times so I can start some new projects, catch up on my reading (so many books! like Stream!), and take on some of the household and office chores that were postponed while I was caring for Edwina. I hope you, too, are enjoying the end of the summer.

Up Next: Danilov’s Hey, Sasha! And a slew of other books…

Disclaimers and Disclosures: The usual. Plus knowing several of the YP jurors, including Otroshenko and Vodolazkin, both of whom I have translated. Danilov is a friend.