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Short List of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award for 2018 Announced


The Leo Tolstoy Estate-Museum and the Samsung Electronics Company, co-founders of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award, have announced the short list in the Modern Russian Fiction  category for 2018.

The “Yasnaya Polyana” literary prize has been awarded annually since 2003. The Yasnaya Polyana Modern Russian Fiction Award recognizes an outstanding work by a modern author which promotes the ideals of humanity and which is important to read at this time as it reveals the course of present-day literary trends. Books published since 2015 were nominated for this year’s prize.

The following three books were short-listed in the Modern Russian Fiction category for 2018:

  1. Bushkovsky, Alexander. The Festival of Superfluous Eagles   - Moscow: RIPOL Classic, 2017
  2. Slavnikova, Olga. The Long Jump. – Moscow: AST, 2017 
  3. Stepanova, Maria. In Memory of a Memory. – Moscow: New Publishers, 2017        

2A total of 152 works were nominated for the prize in 2018, both separately published books, as well as works published in literary journals. The jury included 43 works in the long list of nominees in the Modern Russian Fiction category.

“To choose only three books was a decision that we reached only after lengthy discussion of the list at Yasnaya Polyana. We could have added several more, but it would have been difficult to explain why we added those. But the choice of these three can be explained by each member of the jury. We didn’t set out to surprise with our choice of names, but rather to show something that is alive; these three works can’t be pigeonholed into a single trend, they are three very dissimilar authors and texts, but together they represent what it is that we want to present with our award,” according to Vladimir Tolstoy, chairman of the jury for the Yasnaya Polyana Award and cultural advisor to the president of the Russian Federation.

“The three books in the short list vary greatly: from Bushkovsky, who writes with a forgotten simplicity, whose language works with its childlike openness. It is as though he doesn’t know that you aren’t supposed to write like that; for him what’s important is the truth which he tries to express about the Chechen war, an elementary truth which his perished friends are dictating to him. Another perspective is in In Memory of a Memory by Maria Stepanova, striking, polyphonic intellectual prose of great beauty. It is as though all three centuries of Russian literature came together in this book—the author embraces the historical, the literary, the religious, trying to resolve all the painful issues. Olga Slavnikova as a member of this trio represents the classical tendency of the Russian novel,” jury member Valentin Kurbatov stated.

“Bushkovsky’s prose may seem when compared to the other authors in the short list to be simplistic and unintellectual. But it is a very strong and interestingly made book, and is surprising, humane prose. It broadens our understanding of people and the relations among them. I am glad that the author made it into the short list. I even think that we are giving prominence to a new name,” said Pavel Basinsky.

“The only novel in the short list that is written like a novel is Long Jump by Olga Slavnikova. The book is composed in such a way that you can’t put it down, its meaning grows exponentially. Long Jump is full of colossal narrative energy. It shows us not only Russian issues, but also global ones. A novel about contemporary reality, about what is occurring with our understanding of the good, the falsity of the good, the insignificance of the good,” Vladislav Otroshenko said.


“Our cooperation with the Leo Tolstoy Estate-Museum and support for the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award is one of the most important undertakings of Samsung Electronics in Russia, and our contribution to the development of classical literary traditions in the contemporary context.  We are proud of the fact that the Yasnaya Polyana Award is the biggest literary prize in the country, and glad to see the annual growth of interest in the prize overall and to the specific works nominated in particular,” said Sergey Pevnev, Director of Corporate Projects at the Samsung Electronics CIS headquarters.

The Yasnaya Polyana Book Award brings together key experts and acts as a guide to contemporary literature, drawing up lists from the best Russian and translated books. The jury chooses outstanding artistic works in two categories, Modern Russian Fiction,  and Foreign Fiction, and singles out significant events in our literary life.

The Foreign Fiction category recognizes the most significant foreign book of the year written in the 21st century and its translation into Russian. The long list in this category is selected by experts: literary critics, translators, and publishers. The long list of the Foreign Fiction Award this year included 35 works; there is no short list in this category. The winners of the award in this category were Ruth Ozeki (2015), Orhan Pamuk (2016), and Mario Vargas Llosa (2017).


The Event category was established in 2017 and recognizes a significant event in literary life, in the opinion of the jury and experts, such as a festival, theater production, documentary literature, or mass media materials. The first award in this category was given to the LiteraTula festival of modern children’s literature and its curator, Irina Rocheva. Everybody can send a message and recommend an event for the award. 


The prize fund of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award in 2018 is 6.7 million rubles, which makes it the biggest literary award in Russia. The winner of the Modern Russian Fiction Award will receive three million rubles, and one million rubles will be divided among the authors of the short-listed works.

Novels by winners of the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award, Laurus, by Evgeny Vodolazkin, and Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes, by Guzel Yakhina, also were the first works of modern Russian literature added to the Living Pages application, an interactive encyclopedia that lets the users explore literary works in a new format. The Living Pages project was launched in 2015 by Samsung jointly with experts of Tolstoy Digital and supported by the School of Linguistics of the Higher School of Economics National Research University and the ABBYY Company.

On October 24, 2018 the jury of the Award will announce the winners in all the categories. According to our tradition, the awards ceremony will take place in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.


About the Award: 

The annual Yasnaya Polyana Book Award was established by the Yasnaya Polyana Museum and Samsung Electronics Company in 2003. The Award supports the traditions of classic Russian literature and trends in modern Russian literature. 

In 2017, the categories were changed. The main category is the Modern Russian Fiction Award. 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. The Foreign Fiction Award recognizes the most significant foreign book of the year written in the 21st century and its translation into Russian. A new category is the Event category. It is intended to recognize a significant event in cultural life in the opinion of the jury and experts, such as a festival, theater production, mass media creation, or documentary literature.

Among the winners of the award, in different years and categories, were Narine Abgaryan, Vladimir Grigorenko, Guzel Yakhina, Evgeny Vodolazkin, Aleksei Ivanov, Zakhar Prilepin, Vasily Golovanov, Mikhail Tarkovsky, and Roman Senchin. Presently, the Yasnaya Polyana Book Award is the biggest annual book award in Russia.

More information is available on the web site of the Award.

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