The Russian Booker Prize is awarded annually to the best original novels written in Russian. Founded in 1992, it was the first non-governmental literary award in Russia since 1917. Today, the Russian Booker still holds the status of the Russian-speaking world’s premier literary prize. So, below is our list of Russian Booker Prize Winners 1999-2014:
1999, Freedom, by Mikhail Butov
A story of urban solitude, Freedom depicts the story of a contemporary writer living in an often unwelcoming world and existing in what seems a wasted life. In a vast world where no reality fits his perception, Freedom is a tale of losing one’s way and eventually finding the path again.
2000, The Conquest of Izmail, by Mikhail Shishkin
In this eccentric postmodern novel, Shishkin lures his readers into a whirlwind of captivating and seemingly-unrelated stories filled with surreal characters. Masterfully blending the thriller genre with comedy, this novel also intertwines the 20th-century Russian reality with ancient Greek history. Its varied themes, voices and narratives will be sure to interest readers of all backgrounds.
2001, The Kukotsky Case, by Lyudmila Ulitskaya
The story of a Russian doctor looking back at his life, this novel encompasses the vast historic period from the creation of the USSR to the 1960s and explores the controversies of the Russian intelligentsia, death and the limits of freedom.
2002, Karaganda Ninth-Day Requiem or The Story of the Last Days, by Oleg Pavlov
This mysterious story of a funeral procession turns into a grotesquely absurdist tale of life and death, the netherworld, and the battle between good and evil for human souls.
2003, White on Black, by Rubén Gallego
A story of growing and traveling to full-heartedness through a life full of deprivation and suffering. The author, who was born with cerebral palsy, whose family was ashamed of him, and who spent his childhood in orphanages, hospitals, and nursing homes, tells readers a story of how self-pity and bitterness can be overcome through sincere wonderment with the world around—and with the other worlds found in books.
2004, Voltairiens and Voltairiennes, by Vasily Aksyonov
This work is a theatrical, phantasmagorical, masterfully stylized story staged in the 18th century and involving two major historical figures of that time, Voltaire and Catherine the Great—a story where fête galante comes alive.
2005, Without Way or Track, by Denis Gutsko
Gutsko’s work is a partially autobiographical story of ruined hopes. The main character reflects the canonical Russian literary image of “a superfluous man.” He gradually fails in all the aspects of his life—as husband, professional, father, etc.—but his story doesn’t provoke any pity or compassion in readers, probably because the hero doesn’t appear either charming or remarkable: Instead, the writer offers a simple story of weakness and will.
2006, 2017, by Olga Slavnikova
In this fantastical/magical tale of adventures, crimes and pursuits, Slavnikova offers a story of love set in the near future against the background of corrupted humanity, told in a complex style with plenty of metaphors.
2007, Matisse, by Aleksandr Ilichevsky
Matisse provides an overwhelming reflection on the lives of three homeless persons in Moscow, a story of life choices and the situations where life leaves no choice. The author’s style was highly praised for the sense of a postmodern novel written in classical literary Russian.
2008 The Librarian, by Mikhail Elizarov
A satire about fanaticism and blind faith, The Librarian is both a story about books being a powerful weapon and an obscure, mysterious, and symbolic tale about the Soviet Empire.
2009, The Time of Women, by Elena Chizhova
The Time of Women is a history told in the company of five women—a single mother, her little daughter, and their three elderly roommates: One comes from a family of serfs, a second one comes from a family of aristocrats, and the third one, from a family of workers. The little girl draws pictures as the old women tell her about their lives, reflecting the history of Russia of the 20th century.
2010, The Flower Cross, by Elena Kolyadina
A story of dark times and bright souls, The Flower Cross offers the bare historical facts of the execution of a young woman burned in 1672 in Russia for witchery, inspiring the author to write an adventurous novel that became controversial for dealing with the issues of the Church and a Russian saint.
2011, A Gloom Is Cast Upon the Ancient Steps, by Alexander Chudakov
This presumably autobiographical story of an exile allows historical and philosophical testimony, the history of Russia told through personal stories. Chudakov’s bildungsroman—a story of growing—is funny and sad, scary and life-asserting.
2012, The Peasant and the Teenager, by Andrei Dmitriev
In this story of social collision, the title reflects the conflict: The author brings a liberal modern teenager and a peasant from the backwoods together, allowing the reader to contemplate their interactions and observe how real, true, and similar things appear from differences and acute dissimilarities.
2013, Return to Panjrud, by Andrei Volos
An oriental story staged in the 10th century with a poet as a lead character, this tale tries to capture the charm and wisdom of the Medieval Persian world.
2014, Return to Egypt, by Vladimir Sharov
This mystical, epistolary novel with multiple storylines reflects the striking, formidable paths that history follows. An obscure thought runs through the entire novel: If Nikolai Gogol had finished his Dead Souls, the history of Russia would have been dramatically different.
2015,Vera, by Alexander Snegirev
A story about a woman Vera who tries to find herself. It starts from the deep longing for parent’s love and goes to different stages of life, immigration, marriages, but all in vain. Vera is metaphor for Russia itself.
2016, The Fortress, by Peter Aleshkovsky
A novel how a mediocre guy becomes a hero, mainly, for the sake of himself and inner piece (“inside fortress”).