Russian/Eurasian Studies Program, Human Rights Project, and Center for Civic Engagement present:
The Literature of the New Russia
Readings by Debut Prize Winners
Monday, February 20, 2012
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Russia's Most Independent Writers Read Their Latest Works and Share Insights into the State of Art and Freedom in Their Changing Country.
On February 20th, in the second in its series of Debut literary events, CAUSA ARTIUM presents leading novelist Olga Slavnikova and four exciting young Russian authors: Irina Bogatyreva, Igor Savelyev, Alisa Ganieva and Dmitry Biryukov.
Russia has always fascinated the West. Russia: both friend and foe, Europe and Asia, home of militant atheism and spiritual depth, land of political extremism and literary genius. Not all in the West are aware of how crucial a moment this is in the art and life of one of the world’s great cultures, the Russian civilization. The Soviet and immediate post-Soviet generations, opposed as they were, had much in common, both obsessed with the heritage of the Soviet epoch.
Now they are being displaced by a new generation, one for which the Soviet Union is mere history. This generation has been raised in a new and different world, a Russia both more familiar to the West... and less so. They have a new set of hopes and fears, with different lives and aspirations.
For over a decade, the Debut Prize has been seeking out new young literary talent throughout the world’s Russian speaking population. Receiving as many as 70,000 submissions annually, it has become a key element of Russian literary life.
As the coordinator of the Debut Prize, Olga Slavnikova occupies a unique position in Russian literature, forming a bridge between the generation that has currently taken its place at the helm of the Russian literary establishment and the new voices of the New Russian Literature.
Olga Slavnikova grew up in Ekaterinburg in the Ural mountain region. She has a degree in journalism. Her first novel, Dragonfly Enlarged to the Size of a Dog, made the Russian Booker Prize short list in 1997. It immediately vaulted her to the top ranks of Russian literature.
Her second novel, Alone in the Mirror, won her the Pavel Bazhov Prize and also made the Anti-Booker Prize short list. She won the Critics’ Academy prize for Immortal, which was also shortlisted for the Belkin and National Bestseller prizes.
Olga Slavnikova's critical essays have won her the Polonsky Prize.
The novel 2017, Slavnikova's magnum opus, recently won Russia's most prestigious literary award, the Russian Booker Prize. It has been translated into numerous languages; it was published in English in 2010. A number of her short stories are also available in English.
Ms. Slavnikova's latest novel is Light Head, the English translation of which is expected to be issued in the spring of 2012.
Alisa Ganieva was born in 1985 in Moscow, but soon moved to her family's native Dagestan. It seems almost a literary device, for she later returned to Moscow to be “born” a second time, as a writer, while her literature continues to revolve around her Dagestani world. A graduate of Moscow’s prestigious Literary Institute, Alisa writes criticism for leading Russian literary journals.
Her 2009 “Salam, Dalgat” was a stunning and sharply controversial literary mystification. The tale was published as the work of Gulla Khirachev, a fighter in the war-torn Russian Caucasus. It exploded onto the literary scene and Khirachev was a star - until the Debut Prize awards. Khirachev was called to the podium, but in place of a rough, unshaven rebel in khakhis or camouflage, up walked the delicate and elegant young Ganieva.
Ganieva has since won numerous awards for her prose and the October magazine prize for her critical articles. She is also the creator of her own new genre, a special kind of avant-garde children’s tale.
Dmitry Biryukov lives in Novosibirsk's “Academic City,” where he was born in 1979. He has degrees in history and philosophy in addition to post-graduate work at the Institute of Philosophy and Law and a course of study at the Literary Institute in Moscow.
Biryukov is the author of numerous short stories and essays. He made the Debut Prize long list in 2004 and then won the prize in 2005 in the “Essays” category. His first novel is currently in press.
Biryukov’s current project is a novel whose protagonist is an artist searching for the hidden meaning of one of the landmark works of 20th century art, Kasimir Malevich's 1915 “Black Square.”
Biryukov is a journalist. He recently left a position as editor-in-chief Science First-Hand to cover arts and culture.
Irina Bogatyreva was born in 1982 in Kazan, Tatarstan. In 2005, she graduated the prestigious Literary Institute in Moscow. She has been recognized by numerous literary awards and her stories and articles can be read in Russia’s leading literary journals.
Bogatyreva writes on the most important issues for Russia's younger generation, including the freedoms offered by the hitchhiking subculture, cults and esoteric spirituality, the attraction of unspoiled nature and ancient civilizations.
Bogatyreva's “Off the Beaten Track” struck a chord in Russia. “The tale is largely autobiographical,” she explains. “The protagonists hitchhike from Moscow to the Altai, much as I once did. But from the day it was published, so many people saw themselves in my characters that I came to understand that it wasn't my story alone, but the story of everyone who had ever experienced the joys and the thrill of the open road.”
Igor Savelyev was born in 1983 into a family of writers in Ufa in the southern Urals, where he still lives and works as a crime reporter for the local news agency. He received his degree in philology from Ufa University and is currently working on his dissertation on the topic of contemporary Russian literary criticism.
In 2004, his short novel Pale City, based on first-hand hitchhiking experiences, became a cult classic for Russia's youth culture.
Critics have raved about Savelyev’s “masterful, finely chiseled style based on brilliant counterpoints, like a virtuoso music piece.” In his works, “realism is bordering on phantasmagoria, a striking sample of new-generation psychological prose.”