Venko Andonovski was among eight world writers shortlisted for the Tolstoy Prize

Venko Andonovski with the novel "Navel of Light" / Photo by Miki Jevtović

The novels "Palace of Dreams" by Ismail Kadare (Albania), "Granddaughter" by Bernhard Schlink (Germany, known for the novel and film "The Reader"), "Winter Soldier" by Daniel Mason (USA, known for "The Piano Tuner"), "Pistolka" by Fernando Aramburu (Spain), "Coconut" by Zhang Yueran (China), "The Sound of Falling Things" by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (Colombia), "Promise" by Daymond Galgut (South Africa) and "The Navel of Light" " by the Macedonian writer Venko Andonovski, are in the narrow selection for the prestigious world literary Tolstoy Award "Jasnaya Polyana".

This was announced on Wednesday evening, at a solemn ceremony, by the jury composed of: Vladimir Ilyich Tolstoy (great-grandson of Leo N. Tolstoy) and writers Alexey Varlamov, Evgeny Vodolaskin, Vladimir Otrashenko and Pavel Basinsky. Out of 30 nominations from 16 countries, the jury in the "foreign literature" category decided on these eight titles.

Andonovski's novel was translated into Russian by the eminent translator, Macedonian scholar and promoter of Macedonian culture in the Russian Federation, Olga Pankina. This is Andonovski's second nomination for this award. In 2017, his novel The Navel of the World, also translated by Olga Pankina, was nominated but did not make the shortlist.

The name of the laureate will be announced in October, at the Yasnaya Polyana awards ceremony. The prize goes to the writer and the translator.

– This year we have one of the most balanced shortlists for foreign literature. There is no dominance of any language or region. We have translations from Spanish, Chinese, German, Macedonian, English. First of all, I would like to introduce you to an extremely talented author from Eastern Europe, who already attracted the attention of the jury a few years ago with another work ("The Navel of the World" translated by Olga Pankina) and then caused, I remember well, liveliest and greatest interest. It is the Macedonian writer Venko Andonovski. There is no doubt that today he is the leader and top representative of Balkan literature, deeply appreciated in Russia. His new novel "The Navel of Light" in the exquisite translation of Olga Pankina is a wonderful blend of mind, temperament, wisdom, imagination and artistic taste. In some sense close to his work is the novel of the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare "Palace of Dreams". Although the book was written many years ago, even today, after it appeared for the first time in Russian, it really fascinates, because it is a deep thing that can exist outside of time and speak for all times, including ours - commented the member on the jury, the writer Vladislav Otroshenko.

"This year's shortlist is interesting not only because of the variety of highly artistic texts in excellent translations, but also because of the geographical breadth of coverage. All continents except Australia are represented: Europe, Asia, USA, Latin America, Africa. This is a truly global view of contemporary world prose in its best form" - said the writer Pavel Basinski, a member of the jury for the award.

The Yasnaya Polyana Literary Prize (popularly called the Eastern Booker in the West) was established in 2003 and is awarded by the Yasnaya Polyana Museum and Samsung Electronics. The award is given for the best prose work in four nominations: contemporary Russian prose, foreign literature translated into Russian, missed masterpieces and personality.

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