This anthology presents Russian prose by a new generation. The authors, who come from various parts of Russia, never lived in the Soviet Union. They are free of the Soviet legacy. They have no nostalgia and do not resonate to the sort of art that attempts to turn everything Soviet into vintage chic. And unlike many older writers, they are not fighting the Soviet past.
Why the title Squaring the Circle? The authors live in a system of multiple uncertainties. The problems that life poses them often have no solution. To solve what is insoluble, to do what is undoable: that is the demand made of a young person today by unpredictable Russian reality. Young people have no algorithms for building their lives and careers. There are no guarantees, but anything is possible. Theirs is a fundamentally new way of thinking, a new way of seeing the world.
In the early 1990s the Booker Prize, brought to Russia from Britain, gave new impetus to the Russian novel. A decade later came the Debut Prize for young authors that helped engender a new literature, an example of which you now hold in your hands. Every year, the Debut receives up to 50,000 entries from every region of Russia, and around the world. 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the Debut Prize and the start of its international program.
The Debut has shown that a person’s life experience at any age is complete in and of itself. What a person knows about the world in his early 20s has been forgotten by the time he is 30. The Debut prompts them to commit to literature their unique experiences, what might be described as the shock of their first encounter with grown-up life.
Today an unusually gifted generation is entering Russian literature. Literature has not seen such an influx of energy in a long time. Perhaps this change is an anthropological response to the difficult position of culture and literature. This new generation writing in Russian — both the individual writers and the phenomenon as a whole — deserves great attention.
Praise for Debut Prize
“The Debut tries to gather the best we have in Russia.” — Novaya gazeta