Wondering what’s new in Russian literature in translation? Here are the five books shortlisted for the 2014 Rossica Prize, a £3000 award given yearly. The winning book will be announced on March 20, 2014.
Rossica Prize 2014 – Shortlist
Happiness is Possible
By Oleg Zaionchovsky
Translated by Andrew Bromfield
2012, And Other Stories, ISBN 978-1908276094
Happiness is Possible tells the story of a writer late delivering his novel, unable to write anything uplifting since his wife walked out. All he can produce is notes about the happiness of others. But something draws him into the Moscow lives around him, bringing together lonely neighbours, restoring lost love, and helping out with building renovations. And happiness seems determined to catch up with him as well.
Phaedra; with New Year’s Letter and Other Long Poems
By Marina Tsvetaeva
Translated by Angela Livingstone
2012, Angel Classics, ISBN 978-0946162819
Marina Tsvetaeva’s verse drama Phaedra, completed in 1927, is the most extraordinary of all literary treatments of the Phaedra legend. Angela Livingstone has translated this little-known great work for the first time into English. Three long poems written at the same time as Phaedra connect, in their depth of thought and feeling, with Tsvetaeva’s intense epistolary relationships with Pasternak and Rilke, and fascinatingly fill out the themes and preoccupations of the drama.
By Vladislav Khodasevich
Translated by Peter Daniels
2013, Angel Classics, ISBN 978-0946162826
Vladislav Khodasevich (1886–1939), deleted from literary history in the Soviet era because of his emigration in 1922 with his partner Nina Berberova, has since been welcomed in Russia into its 20th-century pantheon of poets, where he was long ago placed by Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky. This bilingual edition, with its wide-ranging introduction by Michael Wachtel and extensive end-notes by the translator, offers the English-speaking reader the first substantial selection of this intriguing poet.
Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov
Anthology, edited by Robert Chandler
Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, with Sibelan Forrester, Anna Gunin and Olga Meerson
2012, Penguin Classics, ISBN 978-0141442235
In these tales, young women go on long and difficult quests, wicked stepmothers turn children into geese and tsars ask dangerous riddles, with help or hindrance from magical dolls, cannibal witches, talking skulls, stolen wives, and brothers disguised as wise birds. Half the tales here are true oral tales, collected by folklorists during the last two centuries, while the others are reworkings of oral tales by four great Russian writers: Alexander Pushkin, Nadezhda Teffi, Pavel Bazhov and Andrey Platonov.
The Queen of Spades
By Alexander Pushkin
Translated by Anthony Briggs
2012, Pushkin Press, ISBN 978-1908968036
The Queen of Spades, originally published in Russian in 1834, is one of the most famous tales in Russian literature, and inspired the eponymous opera by Tchaikovsky. This edition also includes The Stationmaster, together with the poem The Bronze Horseman, extracts from Yevgeny Onegin and Boris Godunov, and a selection of his poetic work.
Shortlist and longlist are both available on the Rossica Prize website.