The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Russian Life's book, Moscow and Muscovites, by Vladimir Gilyarovsky, translated into English by Brendan Kiernan, received the 2015 AATSEEL Award for Best Scholarly Translation into English.
Over 35 other notable books – including works by Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Mayakovsky and Bulgakov – many of them from much larger publishers, were in the running for this prestigious award. In announcing the honor, AATSEEL President Kevin M.F. Platt said:
"Brendan Kiernan's translation of Gilyarovsky's book is truly a labor of love, with painstaking attention to detail and lucid, lively, smoothly flowing style, expertly rendering Gilyarovsky's prose that has captivated generations of Russian-language readers. Admirably, Kiernan spares no effort in rendering the voices of ordinary Muscovites that appear in the pages of Gilyarovsky's book — a feature of the work that acquires particular relevance in the context of this year's award of the Nobel Prize to Svetlana Alexievich... Moscow and Muscovites is an invaluable resource for a broad audience, from students to senior scholars. Kiernan's deft translation fills an important lacuna in the sources on Russian cultural history."
"We are very excited about this award," said Publisher Paul E. Richardson. "I have dreamed of bringing this book into English for 25 years. It is a beloved classic in Russia, yet it had never been translated – perhaps because it was so difficult. Brendan shared our vision of the importance of the project, and Moscow's Institute of Literary Translation provided generous grant support. Brendan dug deep into the historical, cultural, and linguistic minutia of the work and produced not just a faithful translation, but a fine work of literature. And, given what it means to be a journalist in Russia today, it is great to see the grandfather of Russian journalism get some recognition."
First published in 1926, Moscow and Muscovites is an expansive, masterful work of ethnography and micro-history. Gilyarovsky loved investigating the rich underbelly of life in the capital and his stories brim with colorful characters and forgotten histories. His memoir is a vivid portrait of what life was like in Moscow, and Russia more generally, before the Bolshevik Revolution. Yet the book also offers incomparable insights into what makes Russia, and Russians, tick.
Russian Life was founded in 1990 and publishes periodicals, fiction, nonfiction, maps and other items of interest to Russophiles the world over. Its translation of Ilf & Petrov's The Little Golden Calf, translated by Anne O. Fisher, won the 2010 AATSEEL Prize for Best Literary Translation.
About the Author: Vladimir Gilyarovsky (1853-1935) was an adventurer, raconteur, poet, actor, gourmand, and an indefatigable journalist. Indeed, Russians (who call him, affectionately, "Uncle Gilya") consider him the grandfather of Russian journalism.
About the Translator: Brendan Kiernan is a freelance translator and political analyst. A student of Russian language and literature since 1977, he earned his bachelor's from Williams College and his PhD (in Political Science) from Indiana University, Bloomington, as well as an area studies certificate from IU's Russian and East European Institute. He is the author of The End of Soviet Politics (Westview) and is currently finishing his translation of Andrei Bely's forgotten masterpiece, The Moscow Eccentric, to be published by Russian Life Books in 2016.
About the Prize: The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL), founded in 1941, exists to advance the study and promote the teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures, and cultures on all educational levels, elementary through graduate school. AATSEEL awards prizes to outstanding publications in the fields of 1) language pedagogy, 2) linguistics, 3) literary and/or cultural scholarship, and 4) translations into English. Nominees for the translation prize are book-length translations of a literary work, an epistolary genre (letters, memoirs, essays, etc.), or a scholarly work.
The first-ever English version of Uncle Gilya’s masterpiece, Moscow and Muscovites, translated by Brendan Kiernan and published by Russian Life Books, debuts today. It’s our way of saying “Happy Birthday” to Uncle Gilya (today is his 158th!). English-language readers around the globe win as well – this translation is at least 90 years overdue!
Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin.