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Friday, December 02, 2016
We were excited to learn today that one of our authors, Peter Aleshkovsky, was awarded the 2016 Russian Booker Prize, arguably Russia's most prestigous literary prize. Peter won it for his most recent novel, Крепость (The Fortress), which was nominated for all of Russia's top literary prizes this year.
The prize is long overdue. Peter has authored a dozen fine books over the past three decades, and has been thrice shortlisted for the Booker, for Skunk: A Life (1994), Vladimir Chirgintsev (1996), and Fish (2006). A full list of his books is here, along with links to some other material on Peter's work, including an interview about Fish he did with the novel's translator, Nina Murray, who also translated Stargorod.
In announcing the Booker Prize on December 1, Olesya Nikolayeva, the jury's chairman, said:
"Today, we, the members of the jury discussed and chose the leading candidate for the prize, although he was known to me well before this. From the very beginning I have been a fan of this novel. The jury was divided: three against two. Then we conducted a literary contest: each member had to speak on the two novels and give their conceptual assessment. After that, the votes changed. This novel is truly alive, it has a true character, a hero, a positive hero, I shoul say. The laureate of the Russian Booker Prize is Peter Aleshkovsky, for his novel Крепость."
In an authorial biography that Peter penned for us some years ago, he concluded that he
is continually surprised at how people, like paintings in a museum, are everywhere as unlike one another as they are alike, such that they can even read a novel written in Russian and translated into another language.
But if it is an Aleshkovsky novel, then there is no surprise, for it is sure to be a fine work of literature.
Kudos, Peter, we could not be more proud of your achievement!
The translator of Fish: A History of One Migration, Nina Shevchuk-Murray, interviews Peter Aleshkovsky about his novel.
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 four times been shortlisted for Russia's most prestigious book award, the Russian Booker.
Peter Aleshkovsky's style is decidedly in the realistic tradition, but that does not stop him from investigating the mystical and miraculous in everyday life. His works are richly descriptive and evocative of the uniquely Russian worldview, while at the same time tapping into universal human emotions and experiences.
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.