Peter Aleshkovsky has authored a dozen books. Three of his works (Skunk, A Life, and Fish: A History of One Migration, and Stargorod) and several of his articles have been translated into English. He has three times been shortlisted for Russia's most prestigious book award, the Russian Booker.
This epic tale of a modern-day Don Quixote, who sacrifices his life in the struggle against greed, dishonor and ignorance, is destined to become a manifesto of the formation of intellectuals amid the dull reality of the new Russia. 2016 WINNER FOR RUSSIAN BOOKER
NOMINATED FOR BIG BOOK AND NATIONAL BESTSELLER AWARDS
The Other Side of the Moon (2010)
Обратная сторона Луны
This novel, released September 2010, takes place in Balashov, a town in the South of Russia, in the steppes near Saratov, where people are living side by side with demons and domovoys. There are gypsies and a secret sect of Molokans, and a bee-keeper/philosopher. Stylistic fantasy illuminates human character and foibles in the best traditions of Marques and Gogol.
From Moscow: Letters of a Russian Traveler (2010)
От Москвы... (Новое литературное обозрение)
In this collection of his travel writings, Aleshkovsky explores the contours of Russia's past and present, acting as a social archaeologist in places as far flung as Armenia, Sakhalin and the Arctic Circle, at the same time plumbing the depths of his own soul and experiences.
The Institute of Dreams (2009)
The second book in the Stargorod series (the first was Stargorod: Songs from the Choir). The multitude of stories in these two volumes have intermingling characters and plots, forming an organic whole and presenting a rich, multifaceted portrait of a provincial town. Stargorod is an imaginary place. Originally dreamed up by the writer Leskov, it later became the place of residence for Ilf and Petrov's heroes, and now those of Aleshkovsky. It is a place where the true soul of Russia resides. Published in English by Russian Life books as Stargorod.
Fish: A History of One Migration (2006)
Рыба. История одной миграции (Время)
This first person history of a Russian everywoman is also a powerful allegorical tale of exile and imperial collapse, as the protagonist Vera ("Faith" in Russian) travels from Uzbekistan to exile within her own homeland in southern Russia, to life with Estonian farmers, to the disarray of modern Moscow. Published in English by Russian Life Books as Fish.
SHORTLISTED FOR BOOKER (2006)
Rudl and Burdl (2003)
Руда и Бурдл (НЛО)
In this contemporary fairy tale for older youth, Rudl and Burdl travel to a foreign land overcome by ecological disaster and dislocation, where the sun and moon have changed places, cows have stopped giving milk, the mountains have a fever, and the country is dying from sleeplessness.
Чайки: Повести (Текст)
The story of two families, taking place against the backdrop of a crime: theft of an icon from a church.
The Seventh Little Suitcase (1999)
Седьмой чемоданчик: Повести и рассказы (Вагриус)
Along with a republication of Skunk, this volume included Aleshkovsky's series of stories about life in an upper-class family. The main character, attempting to sort out his own fate, brings to life "saving shadows."
Vladimir Chirgintsev (1997)
Владимир Чигринцев (Вагриус)
This is at once a gothic novel and a post-modernist riff on the classic, 19th century novel. It is also a story about a treasure and a werewolf (albeit a satire on treasure-seeking), and a rollicking good adventure in the bargain ("simply so that the reader will not be bored," the author asserts). And — what would a "classic Russian novel" be without this? — there are also some ruminations on the place of Russia and Russians in the world.
SHORTLISTED FOR BOOKER (1996)
Harlequin, or the Life of Vasily Trediakovsky (1996)
Арлекин, или Жизнеописание Василия Тредиаковского (Радикс)
An historical novel about the extraordinary fate of Vasily Trediakovsky, the founder of Russian poetry and an amazingly prolific writer (his works and those he translated comprise over 60 volumes). In the 18th century, Russia had just broken open its window onto Europe. Trediakovsky was a translator from Italian and French. He translated Italian operas into Russian, for performance on the court stage of Anna Ioannovna, as well as the multi-volume Ancient History by the French academic Charles Rollin — a work that would form the basis for Russians' first understanding of the outside world. On top of that, Trediakovsky was also an extraordinary composer, and he created the tone-syllabic system to which the majority of Russian poetry still adheres.
Stargorod: Voices from the Choir (1995)
Старгород; Голоса из хора (Изд-во им. Сабашниковых)
The first book in the Stargorod series (the second is Institute of Dreams). The multitude of stories in these two volumes have intermingling characters and plots, forming an organic whole and presenting a rich, multifaceted portrait of a provincial town. Stargorod is an imaginary place. Originally dreamed up by the writer Leskov, it later became the place of residence for Ilf and Petrov's heroes, and now those of Aleshkovsky. It is a place where the true soul of Russia resides. This first cycle of stories is an intorspective look at life in the post-Soviet provinces, where there are true heroes, and where the tragic-comic situations are fantastical, yet wholly authentic. The tales are told in many voices, with many different narrators. The book was translated and published in German by Suhrkamp Verlag. Published in English by Russian Life Books as Stargorod.
Skunk: A Life (1993)
Жизнеописание хорка (Изд-во им. Сабашниковых)
The gripping story of a young boy (who also happens to be a thief and a murderer) from a provincial town who tries to build an independent future despite the odds of predestination that are heavily stacked against him. A coming of age novel rooted in Aleshkovsky's Stargorod world (see Stargorod: Voices from the Choir and Institute of Dreams), about the hero's gentle progression (in the Russian wilderness) from atheism, through paganism, to God. Published in English by Glas.
SHORTLISTED FOR BOOKER (1994)
How the Novgorodians Got to Yurga: A Story About Brave Novogorod Sailors of the 12th Century (1989)
Как новгородцы на Югру ходили: Рассказ о новгородцах, отважных мореплавателях XII в. (Малыш)
Aleshkovsky Works Translated by Russian Life Books
Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.