Nominees were announced on March 31 in Moscow.depositphotos.com
For the second year in a row the Yasnaya Polyana literary prize, named after Leo Tolstoy's estate and curated by his descendent Vladimir Tolstoy, has nominated a special category for foreign literature.
Last year Japanese-American author Ruth Ozeki got the first prize for her book A Tale for the Time Being. This year the longlist features 31 books from different authors all around the world, from India to the U.S.
The winner will receive 1 million rubles ($15,000) and the translator of the novel into Russian will win 200,000 rubles.
Among the nominees are respected writers such as Nobel prizewinner Herta Müller (Germany), Jean Patrick Modiano (France), John Maxwell Coetzee (Republic of South Africa), and Orhan Pamuk (Turkey).
The judges paid special attention judges to acclaimed books such as Michel Houellebecq's Submission and Jonathan Littel's The Kindly Ones. All the books are suggested by leading Russian literary critics, translators and publishers.
Writer and Tolstoy expert Pavel Basinsky says that Littel's novel is just shot through with references to classical Russian literature and when you read his descriptions of Crimea, the Caucasus or Stalingrad (modern-day Volgograd) during WWII, it seems that the author is writing from those very places.
Another jury member, writer Vladislav Otroshenko, noted that the Yasnaya Polyana prize is trying to show a current trend in world literature.
"Dystopias and predictions are disappearing and are changing into the capturing of the present day, of reality," he said.
Ten books from the U.S. have been nominated, though this list includes books about Afghanistan (The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini) and Japan (The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt).
Otroshenko also pointed out that the longlist contained novels that could be called the Texan "War and Peace," like Philipp Meyer's The Son, or the Nigerian "War and Peace," like Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Yasnaya Polyana museum-estate in the Tula Region
The Yasnaya Polyana literary award was established in 2003 by the Leo Tolstoy museum-estate and the Samsung Electronics company.
Since its foundation, the prize has been awarded to renowned Russian authors as Zakhar Prilepin, Alexei Ivanov, Fazil Iskander, Eugene Vodolazkin, Roman Senchin and Guzel Yakhina.
The chairman of the jury is Vladimir Tolstoy, the Russian president's cultural advisor, Leo Tolstoy's great grandson and former director of the Yasnaya Polyana museum.