Language: in English, with some readings in Russian
Rising Stars of Russian Writing
Limited to writers under 35, the Debut Prize, founded in 2000, receives some 50,000 submissions annually from all corners of Russia. The winners form a new generation of rising literary stars who are transforming the Russian literary landscape.
Readers in the West are little aware of how crucial this phenomenon is in the culture, and life itself in Russia. For this generation the Soviet Union is a part of history rather than a part of their life. They have an entirely new set of hopes, worries, experiences, interests and concerns. Take this special opportunity to learn about how Russia is changing and what it is likely to become!
The visiting Debut winners are Irina Bogatyreva, Olga Rimsha, and Alexander Snegirev (all published by GLAS in 2012.)
Still Waters Run Deep
Young Women’s Writing from Russia
Contributors to this collection, all winners of the Debut Prize, come from different places in Russia.
This fifth Glas collection of Russian women’s writing, this time by women in their 20s and early 30s, reveals its evolution through two decades of upheaval, from lack of awareness of their dependent and downtrodden position in society through a realization of the need to fight for their rights to complete confidence in their equality. So much so that women today often write under men’s names. When they impersonate men it is obvious that they don’t think much of them.
Contrary to the belief that male and female texts tend to become undistinguishable, the typical features of both still stand out while the thematic range and settings change. Russian women, who increasingly occupy leading roles in society, take a sober view of the present-day world. With typical female emotionality and attention to detail, women today speak openly on formerly forbidden subjects, including specifically women’s issues, and leave no taboos unturned. Whatever talented women write about is already interesting by definition because female vision is always sharp, unexpected and paradoxical. Particularly fascinating are these women’s frank self portraits and merciless portraits of the opposite sex. Interestingly, half of the authors in Russia are women and their books are invariably in greater demand.
“Universum” by Irina Bogatyreva is about a young woman’s attempt to penetrate the inner world of the man she looks up to through his email correspondence.
Olga Rimsha’s “Still Water” is a psychological-detective story of an accidental murder and its consequences including an unexpected love affair.
“I Only Wanted to Live” by Victoria Chikarneeva is a young woman’s desperate fight with a terminal illness.
About the authors :
Olga Rimsha (b. 1988) lives in Novosibirsk (Siberia) and works as a literary editor. Her short novel Still Waters won the Debut Prize in 2010. She describes her prose as “pessimistic optimism”.
Irina Bogatyreva was born in 1982 in Kazan (Tatarstan) and grew up on the Volga. Today she is widely published in the leading literary magazines, and in 2008 her first novel, AutoSTOP (published in English as “Off the Beaten Track”) was the finalist of the Debut Prize, and also won the Eureka and the prize of the Oktyabr magazine. She has several books to her credit, all on the most topical Russian problems today, her recently published novel Comrade Anna was short-listed for the Belkin Prize and is pending publication in France.
Alexander Snegirev , born in 1980 in Moscow, has a degree in Political Science but currently works in construction design.
Winner of the Debut Prize for his collected stories Russian Rhymes (2005). His short novel How We Bombed America won the Crown Prize of the Writers’ Union in 2007.
In 2009, Petroleum Venus was shortlisted for the National Bestseller Prize, nominated for the Russian Booker, and was on the OZON.RU bestseller list for a year.
His next novel, Vanity, was named the best book of 2010.
His story “Don’t be Afraid, Girl” came out in German in the series "Junge russische Literatur" (Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag).
The story “D.R.” was published in English in Rasskazy. (Tin House Books, 2009)
Alexander Snegirev, Petroleum Venus,
Translated by Arch Tait
Glas 54, 2012. 300 pp.
Based on the author’s personal experience, this is a tragicomic story of a successful young architect, Fyodor, the single father of a 13-year-old son with Down syndrome. The son is a huge embarrassment to his father and is raised by his parents as their own child. Deeply aware of the generation gap, Fyodor has a love/hate relationship with his parents and inadvertently causes his mother’s death. The next day his father dies of a heart attack during an interrogation at the police station. Fyodor has no choice but to take care of his disabled son himself.
The mongoloid son happens to witness the fatal car crash of a famous painter and steals one of his paintings (“Petroleum Venus”) from the car without knowing that the model for the painting was his own mother who abandoned him at birth. The painting shows a nude woman under a downpour of oil against the background of some oil derricks and birch-trees. A series of extraordinary coincidences and accidents are associated with this mystical picture. In the end the Down boy perishes falling out of the window as he tries to reach out to the poster across the street showing Petroleum Venus. This death happens just at the time when the hapless father learns to love and accept his disabled son and, belatedly, comes to appreciate his parents’ moral values. He becomes thoroughly disillusioned with the glamorous life he has been trying to lead to keep up with the life style of his rich customers.