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Winners of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award Announced


On October 12, 2017 the awards ceremony of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award established by the Tolstoy Estate-Museum and the Samsung Electronics company took place in Moscow. The winners are: Andrei Rubanov for the book The Patriot (Modern Russian Fiction category); Mario Vargas Llosa for the novel The Discreet Hero (Foreign Fiction category); and the children‘s books festival LiteraTula (The Event category). Samsung‘s special prize, The Readers’ Choice, went to Oleg Ermakov for the novel Song of a Tungus.

The Yasnaya Polyana Book Award has been given annually to writers whose works follow traditions of classical literature. In 2017, the Award marked its 15th anniversary, and its structure was changed. This year, the jury chose winners in three categories: Modern Russian Fiction; Foreign Fiction; and The Event.

“The Yasnaya Polyana Book Award will now be given for the 15th time. By today's standards, 15 years is a whole epoch. And now, looking back, we are sincerely proud of the path we have come together in all those years, and proud of the winners of previous years. Now we truly can say that the history of the Yasnaya Polyana Award is the history of modern Russian literature. The Foreign Fiction Award has been given for three years now, so Yasnaya Polyana Award has ventured to cover the literary space of the whole world,“ remarked Vladimir Tolstoy, chairman of the jury, RF President‘s Advisor on Culture.


Modern Russian Fiction is the Award’s main category. It recognizes an outstanding work by a modern author which promotes the ideals of humanity and which is important to read right now as it reveals the course of present-day literary trends. This year, 120 literary works published either as separate books or in literary magazines were nominated for the award. Six texts were included in the short list. 

I consider The Patriot to be the most remarkable novel of the year and one of the most remarkable works of this decade. It is one of the few books which I read avidly to the very end. Rubanov gives us a new modern hero, which is important for a novel. His hero is a person of action. First he acts, and then thinks. It’s not quite typical of Russian literature. I think that of all the brothers Karamazov, Mitya would be the closest to Rubanov, and not Ivan or Alyosha. Mitya who acts, makes mistakes, and only later begins to ponder on them. I like the author’s language very much: it’s distinct, clear, and categorical. Which is not typical of Russian literature lately either. Rubanov is not spoiled by awards. Receiving such a prestigious prize as the Yasnaya Polyana Award is a serious event in the writer’s life,” said Pavel Basinsky, a jury member.

“I have compared literature to ballet several times,“ noted Andrei Rubanov, winner in the Modern Russian Fiction category. “It seems to me that both of these arts exist due to a narrow circle of admirers. And it is quite symbolic that I found myself in the cradle of ballet today, in the Bolshoi Theater. I’m very touched and grateful to everybody for valuing my work so highly.”

The winner of the Modern Russian Fiction Award received a prize of three million rubles.

The prize fund of the short list in this category, one million rubles, will be equally divided among the finalists:

Xenia Dragunskaya (the novella Kolokolnikov – Podkolokolny)

Oleg Ermakov (the novel Song of a Tungus)

Vladimir Medvedev (the novel Zahhok)

Mikhail Popov (the novel In Kresy Wschodnie) 

German Sadulaev (the novel Ivan Auslander)  

The winner of the Foreign Fiction Award is one of the creators of the Latin American boom in prose, Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, for the book The Discreet Hero. Traditionally, this category recognizes the most significant foreign book of the year written in the 21st century, and its Russian translation. The winning author received a prize of 1 million 200 thousand rubles. The translator of The Discreet Hero, Kirill Korkonosenko, received a prize of 500 thousand rubles.


“I am grateful to you for the fact that it was my novel The Discreet Hero that won the Yasnaya Polyana Award. This award is very important for me, as it is related to the name of the author whom I havea always admired and who has been very important for my work – Leo Tolstoy. Seven years ago I visited Yasnaya Polyana. I went there to take in the air, the atmosphere that inspired the Russian genius.  Who could have thought that seven years later I would be told that I received the Yasnaya Polyana Award,“ said Mario Vargas Llosa in his speech.

The prize in The Event category was given for the first time this year. The winner is the LiteraTula Children‘s Books Festival (curator – Irina Rocheva). This big three-day festival dedicated to children‘s and teenage literature took place in the very heart of the city – in the Tula Kremlin. The book fair, public lectures, workshops, exhibiitions, and meetings with writers gathered over five thousand people. The festival has become a significant event for the residents of the whole region. The winner in the new category received 500 thousand rubles. 

Samsung‘s special prize, The Readers‘ Choice, was also awarded. The winner of the prize – a trip to South Korea for two people – is Oleg Ermakov, the author of the book Song of a Tungus, the book from the short list of the Modern Russian Fiction category that got the largest number of votes during an open online vote on the portal.

“It’s been 15 years now since Samsung and the Leo Tolstoy Estate-Museum became co-founders of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award, promoting the rich heritage of classical Russian literature and supporting modern authors,“ commented Kim Y Tak, president of Samsung Electronics headquarters in the CIS countries.

Presently, the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award is the biggest annual book award in Russia. The total prize fund is nearly seven million rubles.

More information is available on the web site of the Award

About the Award:

The Award supports the traditions of classic Russian literature and trends in modern Russian literature. The jury of the award is headed by the advisor to the RF President on culture and art, Vladimir Tolstoy, and includes well-known Russian writers, literary critics, and public figures. Among the winners of the award, in different years and categories, have been Narine Abgaryan, Vladimir Grigorenko, Guzel Yakhina, Evgeny Vodolazkin, Aleksei Ivanov, Zakhar Prilepin, Vasily Golovanov, Mikhail Tarkovsky, and Roman Senchin. In 2016 the winner of the Foreign Fiction Award was Orhan Pamuk for his book A Strangeness in My Mind, and Apollinaria Avrutina received the award for her translation into Russian.  In 2015 the award went to the book A Tale For the Time Being by the American author Ruth Ozeki and its translator Ekaterina Ilina. 

The Jury of the Award

Lev Anninsky, literary critic and literary historian;

Pavel Basinsky, writer and literary critic;

Alexei Varlamov, prose writer and scholar of Russian literature of the 20th century;

Evgeny Vodolazkin, writer, Doctor of Philology, and winner of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award;

Valentin Kurbatov, writer, essayist, and literary critic;

Vladislav Otroshenko, writer and essayist, winner of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award;

Vladimir Tolstoy, Chairman of the jury, RF President’s Advisor on Culture and Art.

Samsung Electronics has been working in Russia for 25 years and actively participating in the country‘s social and cultural life. Samsung Electronics Company is the oldest official sponsor of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater (since 1991), partner of the State Hermitage (since 1997) and the State Petergof Museum-Preserve (since 2013). In 2003, jointly with the Yasnaya Polyana Museum, Samsung Company became a co-founder of the annual Yasnaya Polyana Book Award. Samsung Electronics also actively supports exhibitions of modern art. 

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