Teffi’s 'Memories' given special award for best Russian book in translation


7 June 2017

Art historian and curator Rosalind (Polly) Blakesley has won the fifth annual Pushkin House Russian book prize for her work 'The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia, 1757-1881'. Her book, published by Yale, was selected by a panel of five distinguished judges from a shortlist of six strong contenders.

Professor Simon Franklin, chairman of the judges, said: "Rosalind Blakesley’s The Russian Canvas is a magnificent achievement. It weaves a wonderfully subtle and compelling story of the emergence of a national school of Russian painting. In its range, depth and accessibility it has no parallel in any language. Beautifully produced, with over 250 illustrations, it will surely remain not only the authoritative scholarly account of its subject for many years, but also a much-browsed presence on the shelves of anybody interested in the history of Russian art and culture.”

Rosalind P. Blakesley is reader in Russian and European art at the University of Cambridge. She is a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, and has curated numerous exhibitions. She said: "I'm thrilled. The Pushkin House Book Prize shines a spotlight on the complexity of Russia's culture, politics and history, and the rich ways in which people think and write about this. It is a great privilege to work on such a fascinating country, and to be the recipient of this year's award."

Douglas Smith & Stephanie Ellis-Smith, funders of the prize, said: “We are thrilled to congratulate Polly Blakesley on winning this year’s Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. Her book on Russian painting is both path-breaking and enthralling and offers for Western readers a world of discovery into this forgotten chapter of Russian art.”

Marc Polonsky of the Polonsky Foundation, also funders of the prize, said: "Rosalind Blakesley's magnificent history of Russian painting is an outstanding winner of the Pushkin House Prize, which has again demonstrated the high calibre and diversity of contemporary writing about Russia."


Find out more:

Read more about The Russian Canvas

Read our Q&A with Polly Blakesley


Special Prize for the Best Russian Book in Translation

The judges, in agreement with Pushkin House, also agreed to award a special subsidiary prize for the best Russian book in translation, to Teffi’s 'Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea', translated into English for the first time by Robert & Elizabeth Chandler, Irina Steinberg and Anne-Marie Jackson, and published by Pushkin Press.

Prof Franklin said: "Witty, disarmingly modest and alive to the tragic contradictions of the Revolution unfolding around her, Teffi's 'Memories' describes the collapse of a whole world. It makes for the perfect reading for this centenary year, particularly in this elegant and engaging new translation."

On behalf of the translators, Robert Chandler said: "This prize matters to us because it will bring more readers to Teffi, whose account of her experience as a refugee is, sadly, more relevant than ever to today’s world. We also hope it will encourage more translators to work together in the productive and enjoyable way that we have done. Our work is the fruit of collaboration between a huge number of people including at dozens of workshops including at Pushkin House and the annual translation summer school at City University.”

Robert and Elizabeth Chandler have donated their share of the prize money to help fund Jekaterina Shulga’s research into the different manuscript versions of Vasily Grossman’s STALINGRAD (also titled FOR A JUST CAUSE), which they are currently translating.  This novel, first published in 1952, is, in effect the first half of LIFE AND FATE, and is equally vivid, powerful and complex. Jekaterina Shulga’s research remains in need of further funding - if you would like to make a donation please contact



Find out more:

Read more about Memories

Read our Q&A with Teffi's translators

Watch translator Irina Steinberg discussing Teffi with author Vanora Bennett at Pushkin House


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.


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


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