Russia’s Yasnaya Polyana Prize Longlist Includes Four Nobel Laureates

In News by Dennis Abrams

Established in 2003 by the estate of Tolstoy and the Samsung Corporation, the Yasnaya Polyana Literary Prize has announced a 31-title international longlist.
The Yasnaya Polyana Book Award is named for Tolstoy's estate, 200 kilometers south of Moscow. Since 1921, the estate has been designated as a museum. Image:

The Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award is named for Tolstoy’s estate, 200 kilometers south of Moscow. Since 1921, the estate has been designated as a museum. Image:

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘The Capturing of the Present Day, of Reality’
For a second year, the Yasnaya Polyana literary prize includes a special category for international literature.

The Yasnaya Polyana (Clear Glade) award is named after Leo Tolstoy’s estate and is curated by his great grandson Vladimir Tolstoy,

The longlist for the prize has been announced, featuring 31 books from international authors.

The list includes Nobel Prize winners Herta Müller (Germany);  Jean Patrick Modiano (France);  John Maxwell Coetzee (Republic of South Africa); and Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), along with 27 others, many among the most recognizable names in literary fiction today.

Titles are suggested by Russia’s leading literary critics, translators, and publishers.

In her article for Russia Beyond the Headlines, Alexandra Guzeva reports that jury member Vladislav Otroshenko says the prize is attempting to reflect current trends in world literature: “Dystopias and predictions are disappearing and are changing into the capturing of the present day, of reality,” he says.

Ostroshenko also notes that the longlist contains novels comparable in some ways to the work of Tolstoy:  Phillip Meyer’s The Son, for example, might be called a Texan War and Peace, while Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Son could be seen as the Nigerian iteration of the big book.

Guzeva’s coverage also notes that just under a third of the longlist — 10 of 31 titles — are by American authors, Khaled Hosseini appearing twice on the roster of nominees.

The Yasnaya Polyana Longlist
  1. Austria/Germany. Measuring the World</em. Die Vermessung der Welt. (Rowohlt Verlag, 2005)
  2. UK. Julian Barnes. The Sense of an Ending (Borzoi Books, 2011)
  3. UK. The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt, (Vintage 2009)
  4. Netherlands/UK. Michel Faber. The Crimson Petal and the White (Canongate, 2002)
  5. Germany. Herta Müller. Man is nothing but a pheasant in the world (Der Mensch ist ein großer Fasan auf der Welt, Fischer her Taschenbuch Verlag, 2009)
  6. India. Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things (IndiaInk, India, 1997)
  7. India. Aravind Adiga. The White Tiger (Atlantic Books (UK), 2008; HarperCollins (India), 2008)
  8. Spain. Enrique Vila-Matas. Dublinesca (Seix Barral, 2010)
  9. Italy. Tiziano Scarpa. Venice Is a Fish: A Sensual Guide Venezia è un pesce: una guida, (Feltrinelli Editore, 2000)
  10. Canada. Patrick deWitt. The Sisters Brothers (Ecco, 2011)
  11. Norway. Maria Parr. Tonje Glimmerdal (Det Norske Samlaget, 2009)
  12. Serbia. Goran Petrović.Snow, traces (Снег, следы, Foreign Literature Magazine, 11, 2015)
  13. U.S. Junot Díaz. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead, 2007)
  14. U.S. Philipp Meyer. The Son (Simon & Schuster, 2013)
  15. U.S. Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner (Riverhead, 2003)
  16. U.S. Jonathan Franzen. The Corrections (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)
  17. U.S. Helen DeWitt. The Last Samurai (Hyperion Books, 2000)
  18. U.S. Michael Cunningham. The Hours (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998)
  19. U.S. Siri Hustvedt. What I Loved (Hodder and Stoughton, 2003)
  20. U.S. Khaled Hosseini. And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead, 2013)
  21. U.S. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Half of a Yellow Sun (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007)
  22. U.S. Dave Eggers. The Circle (McSweeney’s, 2013)
  23. Turkey. Orhan Pamuk. Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık (Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, 2014)
  24. France/ U.S. Jonathan Littell. Les Bienveillantes (Gallimard, 2006)
  25. France. Philippe Claudel. Le Rapport de Brodeck (Editions Stock, 2007)
  26. France. Michel Houellebecq. Soumission (Flammarion, 2015)
  27. France. Christophe Ono-dit-Biot. Plonger (Gallimard, 2013)
  28. France. Pascal Quignard. La barque silencieuse (Seuil, 2009)
  29. France. Patrick Modiano. L’Herbe de nuit (Gallimard, 2012)
  30. Sweden. Fredrik Sjöberg. Flugfällan (Pantheon, 2004)
  31. Republic of South Africa. John Maxwell Coetzee. The Childhood of Jesus (Jonathan Cape, 2013)

The winner will receive 1 million rubles ($14,700) and the translator of the novel into Russian will win 200,000 rubles.

Japanese-American author Ruth Ozeki — who just made her first appearance last week at the US Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Los Angeles with Emily St. John Mandel and Kelly Link — received the first award last year for her book A Tale for the Time Being.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.