25 April, 2017


Six highly readable books covering history, reportage, art, ballet and memoir written by Russians and foreign authors were today shortlisted for the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize 2017. The award supports the best non-fiction writing in English on the Russian-speaking world, selected by a panel of distinguished judges.

Simon Franklin, professor of Slavonic Studies at Cambridge University and chair of the judges, said: “There was a really impressive range of entrants, full of original research, illuminating insights, thoughtful argument and engaging exposition, which made it difficult to pick just six. It is a wonderfully diverse selection, spanning palaces and prisons, painting and politics, Petersburg and the provinces. Any would be a worthy winner.”

Daniel Beer, The House of the Dead (Allen Lane)

Rosalind P. Blakesley, The Russian Canvas (Yale University Press)

Anne Garrels, Putin Country (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Simon Morrison, Bolshoi Confidential (Fourth Estate)

Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Romanovs (Orion)

Teffi (trans. by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg with an introduction by Edyth C. Haber), Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea (Pushkin Press)

The winner of the 2017 Prize will be announced on Wednesday, 7 June, 2017, at a dinner hosted by Pushkin House, and will receive £5,000. The award was established in 2012 to encourage public understanding and intelligent debate about the Russian-speaking world.

The panel of judges for the 2017 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize comprises: Anne Applebaum, visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Washington Post columnist; Petr Aven, supervisory board member of Alfa Group Consortium; Simon Franklin, professor of Slavonic Studies at Cambridge University; Charlotte Hobson, author, journalist and translator; and Dominic Lieven, senior research fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and winner of the 2016 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize.

Douglas Smith, a funder of the prize with his wife Stephanie, said: “In this current climate of confusion and misunderstanding, honest, dispassionate, and well-informed writing on Russia is more important than ever.  Stephanie and I are thrilled by the quality of this year’s shortlist and are pleased to be able to continue to support the Pushkin House Book Prize.”

Marc Polonsky, trustee of The Polonsky Foundation, the prize’s other funder, said: “The high calibre and broad range of the shortlist demonstrate the riches of Russian culture and the quality of contemporary writing about it. A difficult decision for the Pushkin House Prize judges.”

Andrew Jack, journalist at the Financial Times and coordinator of the book prize, said: “In the fifth year of the prize and the 100th year of the Russian revolution, this is a wonderfully powerful, informative and entertaining selection of works about Russia spanning the widest variety of themes and styles so far.”

Previous winners are: Douglas Smith for Former People: the Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy (Macmillan); Catherine Merridale for Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia’s History (Allen Lane); Serhii Plokhii for The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union (Oneworld); and Dominic Lieven for Towards the Flame (Penguin).


To celebrate the 2017 shortlist, Pushkin House is delighted to present a programme of talks and discussion with the shortlisted authors and translators. 



November 2016: Prize opened for entries from publishers and 2017 judges announced

31 December 2016:  Prize closed for entries

15 March: 'Pushkin House Recommends' list published

25 April 2017: 2017 Shortlist announced

7 June 2017: Winner of Pushkin House Russian Book Prize 2017 announced and presented at an award ceremony and dinner at The Charterhouse, London



The 2017 Pushkin Prize is being generously supported for the second year running by Douglas Smith (author and winner of the inaugural award in 2013) and Stephanie Ellis-Smith and for the first year we are delighted to have the support of the Polonsky Foundation.


If you have any questions about the shortlist or the Book Prize, please email Rebecca Ostrovsky:


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