Russia’s 2021 Yasnaya Polyana Longlist: Contemporary Prose

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The 2021 edition of Russia’s Yasnaya Polyana literary competition includes a 45-book longlist in contemporary Russian prose.

At Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana near Tula. Image: Yasnaya Polyana Museum-Estate Prize

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Forty-Five Titles in Contemporary Russian Prose
As many Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Yasnaya Polyana Prize was created in 2003 by the Leo Tolstoy Museum and Samsung Electronics. The award program’s jury is led by Vladimir Ilyich Tolstoy, the great-great grandson of Tolstoy, and a literary honor could hardly have a more beautiful or vaunted seat than Tolstoy’s eponymous estate.

Set about 120 miles from Moscow southwest of Tula, Yasnaya Polyana was born there, wrote there, and is buried in close by. The estate was nationalized in 1921 and today is a carefully preserved museum honoring the great writer, under Vladimir Tolstoy’s direction.

The prize that bears the estate’s name honors contemporary Russian prose, international literature, and a readers’ choice award chosen in an Internet vote sponsored by Samsung. A fund of cash awards reportedly has 6.7 million rubles for the competition this year (US$91,589). Those who know of the work of the late critic Valentin Kurbatov, will want to know that he was among the jurors for this year’s program until his death in March at age 82.

In terms of the list we have today (July 1) of the candidates in contemporary Russian prose, regular readers of Publishing Perspectives will note the dominance of titles from AST and Eksmo, the associated (as “Eksmo-AST”) major publishing power in the market.

A longlist of foreign literature (43 titles) has also been provided. Rather than recreate that list, we’ll direct you to it here, because that list is remarkably eclectic, seemingly with comparatively fewer guidelines as far as genre and standing in the industry. What’s more, many books on that list are well known to our international readership, including works from Julian Barnes, JK Rowland’s Harry Potter series, Suzanne Clarke, Jeffrey Eugenides, Meg Wulitzer, Qixin Liu, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Wuong Ocean, Paul Oster, Sally Rooney, Marike Lucas Reineveld, Colson Whitehead, Olga Tokarchuk, Elena Ferrante, and Jonathan Franzen.

What also distinguishes the “foreign” list is its date range, with publications as old as 2008 (Qixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, although the edition mentioned in the list is a 2017 re-issue).

By contrast, in the contemporary Russian prose longlist, most titles are from 2020 and 2021. Three are somewhat older, one each from 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Yasnaya Polyana 2021: Contemporary Russian Prose

The Tolstoy House at Yasnaya Polyana. Image: Yasnaya Polyana Museum-Estate

‘Far East: Hieroglyph of Space’

  • Vasily Avchenko, Far East: Hieroglyph of Space, AST, 2021
  • Vasily Aksenov, Ziplock, Limbus Press, 2020.
  • Peter Aleshkovsky, Secrets, AST, 2020
  • Elena Berdnikova, Yesenin’s Grave, Far East, 2017 (magazine No. 2)
  • Vera Bogdanova, Pavel Zhang and Other River Creatures, AST, 2021
  • Yuri Buida, Wyvern Gardens, AST, 2021
  • Alexander Buchnev, Disposable World: Modern Story, Griffin, 2020
  • Valery Bylinsky, Everything Is Out of the Question, Dixie Press, 2020
  • Mikhail Gigolashvili, Coca, AST, 2021
  • Vladimir Gonik,  Celestial Bucket Beidou, Nur-Sultan: Folio, 2020
  • ‘End of the World, My Love’

  • Alla Gorbunova, End of the World, My Love, New Literary review, 2020
  • Lydia Grigorieva , Termite Mound, Aleteya, 2020
  • Maxim Gureev, Love Kuprin, the magazine New World, 2020
  • Nadia Delaland, Tales of a Drunken Prosody, Eksmo, 2021
  • Mikhail Elizarov, Land, AST, 2020
  • Dmitry Zakharov, Cluster, AST, 2020
  • Kamil Ziganshin, Walking to the Cold Sea, State Unitary Enterprize, Biisheva, 2020
  • Shamil Idiatullin, Lately, AST, 2020
  • Keren Klimovski, It’s Time To Talk, AST, 2020
  • Maya Kucherskaya, Leskov: A Missed Genius, Young Guard, 2021
  • ‘Debutant’

  • Sergey Lebedev, Debutant, AST, Corpus, 2020
  • Dmitry Likhanov, Star and Cross, Eksmo, 2020
  • Anton Likhanov, In Simplicity and Not Offended, Ryazan: Grains-Word, 2021
  • Evgeniy Mamontov, Music at the Airport,  Ivan Shepeta Publishing House, 2021
  • Olga Medvedkova, Three Characters in Search of Love and Immortality, New Literary Review, 2020
  • Andrewy Mineev, Transformation Calendar, Togliatti Writers’ Organization, 2017
  • Sasha Nikolaenko, People Lived as Always: Fedya Bulkin’s Notes, AST, 2021
  • Asya Petrova, Free Country, Eksmo, 2021
  • ‘Reef’

  • Alexey Polyarinov, Reef, Inspiria, 2020
  • Valery Popov, We Are Not Slaves, Limbus Press, 2020
  • Elena Posvyatovskaya, Vazhenka: Portrait of an Impostor, AST, 2020
  • Vera Reznik, Peter’s Dozen, Russian Christian Humanitarian Academy, 2021
  • Victor Remizov, Eternal Frost, Pacific Publishing House Rubezh, 2021
  • Natalia Repina, Biography of Leo, Inspiria, 2021
  • Oleg Ryabov, Once in the City of Gorky, – Nizhny Novgorod: Books, 2020
  • German Sadulaev, Gothic Letters, Tublin Publishing Company, Limbus Press, 2020
  • Sergey Samsonov, High Blood, Inspiria, 2020
  • ‘Gothic Letters’

  • Pavel Selukov, How I Was Anna, AST, 2020
  • Victor Slav, Time of Unnoticed People, Nevsky Prospect magazine, 2021
  • Alexey Slapovsky, Not Yet, AST, 2021
  • Alexander Sobolev, Griffins Guard the Lyre, Ivan Limbakh Publishing House, 2021
  • Marina Stepnova, Garden, AST, 2020
  • Alan Cherchesov, Treasure, Eksmo, 2021
  • Sergey Shiker, Purslane, Volga magazine, 2020
  • Leonid Yuzefovich, Philhellene, AST, 2020

At the Tolstoy estate. Yasnaya Polyana Museum-Estate


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Russian market is here, and more on international publishing and book awards is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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