The Russian Booker 2013 announces short-list.

October 15, 2013
The Russian Booker 2013  announces short-list. The jury of the literary prize Russian Booker have announced the short-list of six finalists for the 2013 prize for the best novel written in the Russian language. The contenders are:

1. Evgenii Vodolazkin. Laurus; A non-historical novel. AST, 2012
2. Andrei Volos. Return to Panjrud.OGI, 2013
3. Denis Gutsko. Beta Male. АSТ, 2012
4. Andrei Ivanov. Harbin Moths. Tallin: Avenarius, 2013
5. Margarita Hemlin. The Investigator. AST, 2012 
6. Vladimir Shapko. At the Foot of an Immense World. Ekaterinburg: Journal “Ural” №№ 11–12, 2012

The Russian Booker is one of the three main literary prizes awarded in the sphere of popular Russian fiction. The others are the Big Book (Bolshaia Kniga) and the National Bestseller Prize.

The award is handed out later in the year than the other two and this may affect the judges decision. Vodolazkin’s Laurus made it to the final of the National Bestseller and is one of the favorites for the Big Book. Also Volos’s Return to Panjrud made it to the short list of the BB.

Some years ago the jury of the Russian Booker attempted to break the tradition of the overlap between contenders of all three prizes and awarded their prize to a rank outsider Elena Koliadina for her erotic novel set in the middle ages Cross of Flowers. One of the indirect results of this decision, according to the newspaper Izvestia, was that the foundation lost its funding. Ever since then the fund has been more cautious and conservative in its choices.

The situation this year is interesting as the clear favorite , in terms of reader’s response is Vodolazkin’s Laurus. The book also fulfills the prize’s main criteria of a weighty, intelligent, well-written and uniquely Russian novel. However if the Petersburg writer Vodolazkin comes to claim the Booker immediately after leaving the podium of the “Big Book” it may create the impression of there being a dearth of good writers currently on the Russian literary scene.

Given this, some critics have touted Ivanov's Harbin Moths about the life of a family in Estonia between the wars as being the likely recipient.
The winner will be announced on the 4th December.

By Simon Knapper