Contemporary Russian writers
Today's Russian literature is characterized by a multitude of genres, from classics to extreme innovators, and they all find their ways to a wide audience. Russians are still fanatic readers. The overview we present here is a very personal choice from a huge range of authors.
One of the most widely read authors is Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili (°1956), a philologist, critic, essayist, and Japanese translator who is writing crime novels under the pseudonym of Boris Akunin. He is the author of a series of novels with the hero Erast Fandorin and a series about the nun detective Sister Pelagia. It is said that he is also the author of The Ninth Savior, an historical mystery novel published in 2007 by a certain A.O Brusnikin, an exact anagram of Boris Akunin.
Fiction writer Viktor Olegovich Pelevin (1962), by training an electromechanical engineer, is notable for his layered postmodernist texts and fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. His most famous work is perhaps the novel Generation P (1999). The P of Pepsi, as evidenced by the opening sentence: «There was in Russia a truly carefree, young generation that looked with a smile to the summer, the sea and the sun, and chose for Pepsi.» Followed by an hilarious satire about a poet who ends up in the world of advertising and spin doctors, and gets very rich.
Like Pelevin, the postmodernist Vladimir Georgievich Sorokin (°1955) is also using rather crude terms while describing sexual perversions, depravities, and often irrational and horrible violence. The novel The Queue (1983) is one of the rare works of Sorokin, which has been translated into English. The book has no story, just the literal impact of the dialogues of people waiting in a queue somewhere in Moscow in the 80s, including some blank pages when the people in the queue are not speaking. With his novel The Blue Lard (1999), he shocked the audience with a scene in which clones of Stalin and Khrushchev are having sex with each other. At the same time he showed his literary genius, through clones of great Russian writers like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Nabokov, and by writing his texts in the style of the authors involved.
The dramatist, novelist and restaurant owner Dmitri Mikhailovich Lipskerov (°1964) presents characters who are functioning in a world where the Russian reality is often strongly transformed into a mixture of realism and fantasy. Since his novel The Last Dream of Reason (2000), many Russians compare him with Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) and Salman Rushdie (°1947). Readers from outside the Russian language hardly know Lipskerov. To date we have in fact found only one of his book translated in French.
Shcherbakova and Rubina
In the contemporary Russian literature, a role of the first plan is played by female writers. One of the best selling Russian authors, for instance, is Galina Nikolaevna Shcherbakova (1932-2010). Strangely enough, not one of her works has ever been translated, and she is totally unknown outside Russia. Another succesful author is Dina Ilyinichna Rubina (°1953). Ever since her debut novel Here is the Messiah (1996) all of her books are bestsellers.
The same goes for Tatyana Vitalyevna Ustinova (°1968), who originally obtained an engineering degree. She debuted as a writer in 1999 with her crime story A Personal Angel. Since then, every book of Tatyana Ustinova is a bestseller. Today, she is one of the best selling Russian crime writers. Her novels are always provided with a female protagonist who unexpectedly ends up in the midst of a criminal activity.
My personal favorite contemporary author is Lyudmila Evgenievna Ulitskaya (°1943), who writes stories from everyday life, mainly situated in Russian artistic and academic circles, and who is frequently compared to Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904). With her two first novels Soniechka (1995) and Medea And Her Children (1996), she immediately became a fixture in the Russian literature.
Boris Akunin, Tatyana Ustinova and Lyudmila Ulitskaya speak out on the political field as opponents of the corruption and nepotism featuring the policies of president Vladimir Putin. Akunin is always present at demonstrations aiming for democratization and openness. In 2004, Ustinova published the book The Oligarch And The Larger Bear based on the controversial prosecution of Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky (°1963), the former owner of the oil company Yukos, whom Putin eliminated through a number of dubious political processes. And in 2009, Ulitskaya caused uproar by publishing Dialogues, a reflection of her correspondence with the same Mikhail Khodorkovsky in prison. Your webmaster ranslated this correspondence into English, French and Dutch.