We are all captives in today’s world: captives of a political system, of circumstances, of our obligations or our illusions, to say nothing of those who are captives in a literal sense. The world seems to be full of misplaced people trapped in captivity of one kind or another, sometimes self-imposed, but feeling nonetheless alienated from a hostile world around them.
Vladimir Makanin, born in 1937 in the Urals, was trained as a mathematician and later a film-maker. But he made his name with his highly individual writings, which won him instant fame among the Russian intelligentsia in the 1960s. His better-known works are available in English translation. His latest novels: Asanand The Hero of Our Times have also been translated into many languages and won him the European Prize for his contribution to world literature.
Victor Pelevin, (b. 1962) is one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation. Pelevin’s characters live in fantastic worlds of dreams, talking sheds, philosophizing chickens, computer games, Soviet werewolves, and drug addicts. His erudition is also fantastic and includes profound knowledge of Chinese philosophy, information science, mysticism, metaphysics, and much else. His better known books include The Blue Lantern, Omon Ra, The Life of Insects, Yellow Arrow, Buddha’s Little Finger, Empire V, Generation P, Numbers, The Werewolves’ Sacred Book, Batman Apollo, SNUFF, Love for three Zuckerbrins.
Olga Slavnikova, an internationally known author and the director of the Debut Prize for young authors, grew up in Yekaterinburg in the Urals where she graduated from the Urals University with a degree in journalism. Her first novel Dragon-fly Enlarged to the Size of a Dog was short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize and immediately put her in the top ranks of Russian literature. Alone in the Mirror, her second novel, was short-listed for the Anti-Booker and received the Pavel Bazhov Prize. Her next novel, Immortal won the prize of the Critics’ Academy and was short-listed for both the Belkin Prize and the National Bestseller Prize.
Victor Astafyev (1924-2001) lived most of his life in the village of Ovsyanka near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Among his earlier works King Fis and The Last Respects stand out as Melville-like masterpieces about Siberian nature and his hungry childhood. He took part in the Second World War and his war novels made him a modern classic and won him major literary prizes.
Alexander Terekhov, was born in 1966. After his army service he graduated from Moscow University's Department of Journalism. He soon won acclaim with his stories about his army experiences and about the early perestroika chaos he was witnessing. Already his early books established him as one of the most talented Russian authors. His prize-winning novels include A Conscript’s Memoirs, A Winter Day Starting a New Life, The Stone Bridge. The Rat-Killer (published in English by Alma Books.)
Georgy Vladimov (1931-2003), winner of the Russian Booker Prize for The General and his Army, is known in the West mainly for his novel Faithful Ruslan, published in many languages. His other major novel, Three Minutes of Silence (1969) was greeted with a barrage of official criticism in the USSR. In 1977 Vladimov resigned from the Writers’ Union and assumed the leadership of the Moscow chapter of Amnesty International. He was forced to emigrate to the West in 1983, and edited the emigre journal Grani.
Irina Muravyova, born in Moscow in 1952, has lived in the United States since the 1980s. Her many novels and stories have won her a reputation as one of today's foremost women writers in Russian. Her books have been shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and the Bunin Prize, and several have been translated into other languages. English translations include The Nomadic Soul (Glas, 1999) and her story 'On the Edge', published in Women on the Cas, a collection of the best women's writing from around the world (Dell, 1996). Day of the Angel was published in English, French, Arabic, Serbian, Slovak, and Hungarian.
Vassily Aksyonov (1932-2009) grew up in Kazan (Tatarstan) and was trained as a doctor in which capacity he worked for many years. He had a perfect ear for the slangy racy Russian of students, bohemians, and ordinary people, and an eye for urban landscape and street scenes. He was forced to emigrate from Russia in 1980 and settled in the USA where he taught Russian literature at George Mason University in Virginia.
Evgeny Popov, born in 1946 in Krasnoyarsk (Siberia) graduated from the Moscow Institute of Geology and spent many years travelling the length and breadth of Russia. He has more than 200 stories and a number of prize-winning novels to his credit. Five of his novels, including The Soul of the Patriot, were published in 20 countries. His stories reverberate with laughter and teasing humor that verges on the lyrical.