Monday 27 April 2009

Two great Russian novelists - Terekhov and Bykov

Over the past few days I had the opportunity to meet and spend some social time with Alma authors Alexander Terekhov and Dmitri Bykov. They are, in different ways, extraordinary writers – ambitious, intellectually serious, stylistically daring. Terekhov's Rat Killer is easily my favourite Alma publication, and a work that I hope to see grow from strength to strength over the next few years after its critically acclaimed launch in UK in June 2008. Bykov is simply an intellectual Juggernaut – a quick, alert, searching, bulldozing mind that has already produced a body of works which many other authors fail to achieve in a lifetime. Terekhov's new novel, eleven years in the making, has just been published in Russia and received many enthusiastic reviews. It is over 900 pages long, so English readers will have to bear with us. The translation of Bykov's monumental ZhD (Living Souls, or possibly Jewhad) on the other hand is well under way, and we hope to be able to offer this 800-page maelstrom of a novel to the British public in the late spring of 2010.

The trouble with Russian writers is that they still appear to be writing under the shadow of their nineteenth-century masters and try to out-Tolstoy and out-Dostoevsky each other all the time. This makes them very hard to export outside Russia. But on the other hand these books could be the classics of the future, so it would be a crime if they were to be lost to an English readership.

In the photo above you can see Dmitri Bykov with Elisabetta and me at our stand during the recent London Book Fair.

And I would like to close today's post by congratulating Ignat Avsey – the translator of the Oneworld Classics edition of Dostoevsky's Humiliated and Insulted – for being shortlisted for the Rossica Prize, and Kyril Zinovieff – who has translated Anna Karenina for us – for receiving a special commendation during the shortlist ceremony.


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