Russia’s Big Book Prize for 2012 has been won by Daniil Granin for his novel My Lieutenant, which is set during World War II. The 93-year old Granin fought in the war and the novel is told through the eyes of a soldier on the frontlines. Earlier this year a book titled Leningrad Under Siege: First Hand Accounts of the Ordeal, co-authored by Granin, was published in English translation.
A couple of his novels have been translated into English as well, including Into The Storm: A Novel, a Soviet-era bestseller about “air turbulence, the mysterious menace of the skies that has sent many a passenger-filled jet crashing to its doom.” Published in English in 2003 the cover is almost comically retro Soviet. Somehow I can’t see the designers consulting with the author and telling him it will be so archaic it will be hip. On the other hand, what were they thinking?
Second prize went to Aleksandr Kabakov and Evgeny Popov for Aksyonov, a memoir of the writer Vasily Aksyonov, whose short story “Halfway to the Moon” is one of my favorite stories ever. Marina Stepnova won third prize for Lazarus’s Women.