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Young Women’s Writing from Russia

Yaroslava Pulinovich, Natasha’s Dream
Irina Bogatyreva, Universum; Seizure
Anna Lavrinenko, Legends of the Old Theater
Anna Babiashkina, Almost English Detective Story
Victoria Chukarneeva, I Only Wanted to Live; The Pipe
Kseniya Zhukova, Twenty Letters from the Twentieth
Olga Rimsha, Still Waters

paper ISBN 9785717200950
ebook ISBN 9785717201032
288 pp.

This is the fifth collection of Russian women’s writing, this time by women in their 20s and 30s. It is interesting to see its evolution under the impact of the country’s turbulent changes over the past two decades. Contrary to the belief that male and female texts tend to become undistinguishable, the typical features of both still stand out while the thematic range and settings change. Russian women, who increasingly occupy leading roles in society, take a sober view of the present-day world. With typical female emotionality and attention to detail women today speak openly on the formerly forbidden subjects, including specifically female problems, and leave no taboos unturned. Whatever talented women write about is already interesting by definition because female vision is always sharp, unexpected and paradoxical. Particularly fascinating is women’s frank self portraits and their merciless portrayals of the opposite gender. Often they impersonate men and obviously don’t think much of them. Interestingly, half of the authors in Russia are women and their books are invariably in greater demand.

With typical female emotionality and attention to detail, these young Russian women authors describe their world leaving no taboos unturned. Particularly fascinating are their frank self portraits and merciless portrayals of the opposite sex. “Natasha’s Dream” is the dramatic monologue of a stunned teenage girl from an orphanage who falls in love with her interviewer. “Universum” is about a young woman’s attempt to penetrate the inner world of the man she looks up to as her guru. “Still Water” is a story of an accidental murder and its consequences including an unexpected love affair. “Legends of the Old Theater” shows the backstage life of a provincial theater as a reflection of the life outside. “Almost English Detective Story” glimpses the private life of a wealthy family which mirrors the current social stratification in Russia. “I Only Wanted to Live” is a young woman’s desperate fight with a terminal illness. And “20 Letters from the 1920s” reviews Russia’s 20th century history in the form of a family correspondence between.

Yaroslava Pulinovich (b. 1987) comes from Omsk (Siberia) and currently lives in Yekaterinburg (the Urals). A graduate of the Yekaterinburg Drama College she writes plays which have been widely staged in Russia and other countries as well as winning her many prestigious prizes, including the Debut in 2008. “Natasha’s Dream” was produced in London and Baltimore. Her plays include ‘Beyond the Track’, ‘I Won't Come Back’, ‘Natasha's Dream’ and ‘Washers’ (Grand Prize at the Kolyada Play Festival in Yekaterinburg.
“Yaroslava Pulinovich may be the next big thing in the world of young Russian playwrights. That was the word, at least, at the Towson Studio Theatre, where two of her monologue plays were given a workshop performance.” (John Barry)

Irina Bogatyreva, born in 1982 on the Volga. In 2005 she graduated from the Literary Institute in Moscow. Today she is widely published in the leading literary magazines, and in 2008 her first novel, AutoSTOP (published in English as “Off the Beaten Track”) was shortlisted for the Debut Prize and also won the Eureka, Ilya-prize, and the prize of the Oktyabr magazine. She has several published books to her credit, all on the most topical Russian problems of the day. Her recent novel Comrade Anna was short-listed for the Belkin Prize.

Victoria Chikarneeva, born in 1987 in a little town near Rostov in the South of Russia. She has a degree in Sociology and Political Science from the South Federal University in Rostov. In 2012 she graduated from the Literary Institute in Moscow. Chikarneeva shares her time between Rostov and Moscow and, after a succession of part-time jobs in most diverse areas, she now works as a script writer. She was a Debut finalist in 2008 with the story “I Simply Wanted to Live”, and again in 2009 with her short novel Everyday Life.

Olga Rimsha, born in 1988 lives in Novosibirsk (Siberia). Graduate of the Siberian Institute of International Affairs she currently works as a literary editor and assistant stage-manager. She has a number of long stories and plays to her name. Her short novel "Still Waters" won the Debut Prize in 2010. It was also published in Chinese. She describes her prose as “pessimistic optimism”.

Anna Lavrinenko (b. 1984) ) lives in Yaroslavl (Central Russia). A Law graduate she works as a company lawyer in Yaroslavl as well as taking an active part in the city’s cultural life: she leads the largest reading group there and reviews books and films for the local press. Her short stories and essays have been published in the top literary and art magazines. Winner of the Debut Prize in 2006.

Anna Leonidova, born in 1979 in a small town in Central Russia, has a degree in Journalism from Moscow University. Currently she works as chief editor of a women's magazine with a circulation of 180,000. She has several published novels to her name. In 2011 she won the Debut Prize for the semi-fantasy novel Before I Croak which has also won the Bestseller Prize as the best "urban novel".

Kseniya Zhukova, born in 1981 in Moscow, has a degree in Journalism from the Institute of Journalism and Literature. Worked as an editor, reporter, proofreader, crossword writer, etc. Twice winner of the Debut Prize: in 2003 for her play “Accidents”, and in 2011 for the long story “Twenty Letters from the Twentieth”.