Olga Zilberbourg: To Understand Russia’s Complexities, Turn to Its Contemporary Literature

“A FRIEND’S TEN-YEAR-OLD SON son recently came up to me at a party to ask, ‘You’re from Russia, right?’ Sensing caution in my assent, the boy hesitated before asking the next question, clearly trying to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t cause offense but would express his curiosity. He finally came up with, ‘It’s a very violent place, isn’t it?'”


Yelena Furman on Elena Chizhova’s “Little Zinnobers”

“The English-language translation of The Time of Women, by Simon Patterson and Nina Chordas, came out in 2012 from Glagoslav Publications, who have now released Chizhova’s earlier novel Little Zinnobers (Kroshki Tsakhes, 2000). Translated by Carol Ermakova, the volume includes a translator’s note and a very useful critical essay by Rosalind Marsh.”


Yelena Furman on Alisa Ganieva’s “Bride and Groom”

“ALISA GANIEVA’S APPEARANCE in the world of Russian literature took everyone by surprise, in the literal sense. A critic by training, she published her first work of fiction, the novella Salam, Dalgat! (Salam tebe, Dalgat!), when she was 25, under a male pseudonym; when the novella received the Debut Prize in 2009, Ganieva outed herself as a woman at the awards ceremony.”



Yelena Furman on Elena Chizhova’s “The Time of Women”

THE TIME OF WOMEN is Simon Patterson and Nina Chordas’s translation of Elena Chizhova’s 2009 Russian Booker-winning novel Vremia zhenshchin. (Modeled on the Booker Prize in Britain, the Russian Booker is given to the best Russian-language text; Chizhova had been nominated for the award twice before). Set in Chizhova’s native St. Petersburg, mostly in the 1960s, when the city was known as Leningrad, this most beautiful, yet most maddening city emerges as a central focus of the narrative, as it often has in Russian literature, from Gogol to Dostoevsky to Andrey Bely.” https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/soviet-scars-yelena-furmans-the-time-of-women/

My Lucky Day: The 2019 Yasnaya Polyana Longlist

Lisa Hayden of Lizok’s Bookshelf does a round-up of the longlist nominees for Russia’s Yasnaya Polyana award. There are several women on the longlist, including Alisa Ganieva and Guzel Yakhina. Russia’s literary prizes tend to disproportionately go to male writers. We’ll have to keep an eye on the shortlist, and the final result, of course, to see if this holds true here.