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Bykov wins national literary prize

Published: June 16, 2006 (Issue # 1178)


The National Bestseller Award the only respected nationwide literary prize that has its award ceremony in St. Petersburg this year went to Dmitry Bykovs expertly written biography of the poet and novelist Boris Pasternak.

The award was founded in 2001. Over the contests brief history, its winners and finalists have included some of the countrys bestselling and most controversial writers, including Viktor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin, Alexander Prokhanov, Pavel Krusanov and Irina Denezhkina.

Bykov, who had been unsuccessfully nominated for the prize four times before, did not attend the award ceremony at the Astoria hotel on last Friday. The writer was on a trip to Paris, and left a soft toy of a bullfrog to serve as a stand-in. The toy, which wittly resembles the author, was introduced to the audience by Bykovs nominator, local critic Nikita Yeliseyev.

At this years ceremony politics was in the air. Controversial writer and National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov presided over the six-member Small Jury (that happened to include his girlfriend, the actress Yekaterina Volkova), and politics featured prominently in critics speeches, almost to the exclusion of literary commentary.

The Small Jury makes the final verdict, while the Grand Jury, comprised of 19 writers, journalists, critics, publishers and cultural luminaries, chooses the six finalists from several dozen candidates.

As the ceremonys co-presenter, journalist Artyom Troitsky put it, in the first years of the prizes history, historic novels and glam fiction dominated the offers but today the shortlist features three books about politics, a book about jail, a book about the hard life of a poet under the Soviet regime and only one book that makes an enjoyable read.

Troitsky attributes this trend to the lethargic state of Russias current political life, leading to politics seeking refuge in literature. When politics is in comatose condition, more and more people open up to the written form as a substitution for political standoffs, battles and controversy, he said.

Activists from pro-Kremlin youth movements gathered outside the Astoria to protest against Limonovs presence on the jury, holding posters bearing offensive, aggressive and threatening slogans such as Limonov, bastard, Petrograd will punish you.

Very few events involving National Bolsheviks have been fortunate enough to escape a violent clash among protestors, so there was a certain anticipation in the air.

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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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