Nine of Russia's Foremost Women Writers, Volume 30

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GLAS New Russian Writing, Dec 1, 2003 - Russian literature - 288 pages
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GLAS' third collection of top women writers includes some internationally known names (Ludmila Petrushevskaya, Svetlana Alexiyevich, Olga Slavnikova, Ludmila Ulitskaya) as well as some other noted women authors appearing for the first time in English (Nina Gorlanova, Margarita Sharapova, Natalia Smirnova, Anastasia Gosteva).

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Maria Arbatova
Nina Gorlanova
Anastasia Gosteva

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About the author (2003)

SVETLANA ALEXIYEVICH, born in 1948, graduated in journalism from Minsk University then worked on various papers while trying her hand at short stories. In her search for “a literary method that would allow the closest possible approximation of real life”, Alexiyevich evolved a writing style all her own: she constructs her narratives out of "live voices" culled from interviews with witnesses to and participants in 20th-century cataclysms. Says Alexiyevich: "That is how I hear and see the world — as a chorus of individual voices and a collage of everyday minutiae." Alexieyevich’s books have sold some 2 million copies in Russia and been translated into more than twenty languages.
The War's Unwomanly Face, Alexieyevich’s first book, detailed the lives of Soviet women who fought in WWII (pilots, parachutists, snipers) while The Last Witnesses looked at that war’s children. Boys in Zinc (1989) addressed the problem of post-traumatic-stress syndrome in veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war. Enchanted by Death (1993) focused on those driven to suicide by the collapse of the Soviet Union and their socialist illusions. 1997 saw the publication of Alexiyevich’s requiem for the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, The Chernobyl Prayer. All of Alexiyevich’s books grapple with the question: “Who are we and what country do we live in now?”
Her latest book, The Wonderful Deer of the Eternal Hunt, is a series of Russian love stories while “Landscape of Loneliness” excerpts three female voices from the book.

MARIA ARBATOVA, born in 1957, holds degrees from Moscow University (Philosophy) and the Literary Institute (Drama). An award-winning writer and dramatist as well as an outspoken feminist, she has been hailed as “Russia’s Erica Jong”. Her best-selling books include: My Name is Woman (published last year in France), A Visit from a Middle-aged Lady, Mobile Affairs, Reading Plays. Her latest book, Farewell to the 20th Century, is a revised and supplemented version of her autobiographical novel I’m Forty.

LUDMILA PETRUSHEVSKAYA, born in 1938, is the author of The Time: Night, short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize and translated into over 20 languages. Petrushevskaya’s rather eccentric style – her black humor and over-the-back-fence style – is often described as critical realism mixed with postmodernism and elements of the absurd. The author of Immortal Love (also widely translated), On the Way to Eros, The Mystery of the House, Real-life Tales, and Find Me, Sleep, Petrushevskaya has been called “one of Russia’s finest living writers”.

OLGA SLAVNIKOVA, born in 1957, grew up in Yekaterinburg in the Urals where she majored in journalism. A literary editor and critic, Slavnikova is the author of three widely acclaimed novels: A Dragon-fly the Size of a Dog, short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize (1997); Alone in the Mirror, short-listed for the Anti-Booker and winner of the Pavel Bazhov Prize; and Immortal, awarded the Critics’ Academy Apollon Grigoriev Prize and short-listed for both the Belkin Prize and the National Bestseller Prize. “Krylov’s Childhood” is the first section of Slavnikova’s novel, 2017.

LUDMILA ULITSKAYA, born in 1942 is a geneticist by training, she only began writing in the 1990s. “Ulitskaya’s fresh, delicately sensual writing, full of the joys and pitfalls of every day, is a world away from the gloomy, fear-driven reflections on the plight of human beings under the Soviet heel,” The Observer wrote of Ulitskaya’s first novel Sonechka (see GLAS 17). “With Ulitskaya, Russian fiction rediscovers a consoling and universal normality.” Sonechka was short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, translated into 20 languages and awarded France’s Medici Prize for foreign fiction. Her novels The Funeral Party and Medea and her Children were also short-listed for the Russian Booker and translated into many languages. Her novel, The Kukotsky Case, won the Russian Booker in 2002.

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