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2007 Rossica Translation Prize

7 Stories by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
translated by Joanne Turnbull
wins 2007 Rossica Translation Prize

The 2007 Rossica Translation Prize was awarded to Joanne Turnbull, translator of 7 Stories by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, and to GLAS Publishers, Moscow.

Joanne Turnbull’s winning translation of these recently discovered literary gems contested with a tremendous and challenging shortlist that reflected both the classics of the Russian literary canon as well as work by contemporary, living authors.

The judges’ verdict: “In the face of strong competition, we believe that the prize should go to Joanne Turnbull for the resourcefulness and verve with which she has introduced to English speakers the extraordinarily inventive and linguistically challenging work of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, "a writer-visionary, an unsung genius" (George Shengeli) who died in obscurity in 1950 but since 1989 has begun to be recognised by Russians as one of their great prose writers of the 20th century.”

The posthumous publication of Krzhizhanovsky’s work, who described himself as “known for being unknown”, confirmed the writer’s belief that his reader would come in fifty years’ time. His work, including 7 Stories, of which only two were published during his lifetime, now for the first time translated into English by Joanne Turnbull, is said to have changed the face of 20th century Russian letters.

Elaine Feinstein, writer, literary critic and one of the Rossica Prize judges, says: “What is astonishing is not that he was ‘known for being unknown’, but that his genius survived Soviet disapproval to be rediscovered long after his death.”

7 Stories
Written between 1922 and 1939, these remarkable stories attest to Krzhizhanovsky’s boundless imagination, black humour and breathtaking irony. A man loses his way in the vast black waste of his own small room. A woman’s former lovers wind up confined to the recesses of her pupil. The rebellious hand of a famous pianist flees a concert hall in mid-performance. Another man lives to try and bite his own elbow. A bibliophile finds that he has lost his ‘I’ in the new Soviet order. A scientist solves the energy crisis by converting human spite. The Eiffel Tower goes mad and drowns itself in Lake Constance…