Quick Study: Alexander Ilichevsky is known for dense prose that often combines philosophy, classical touches, and settings as diverse as Azerbaijan and the hidden tunnels of the Moscow Metro.
The Ilichevsky File: Poet and prose writer Alexander Ilichevsky’s first book, a poetry collection, was published in 1996, several years after he received his degree in physics and began a career in science. Ilichevsky won the 2007 Russian Booker Prize for his novel Matisse, about a Moscow physicist who gives up a comfortable life to wander. He won second prize in the 2010 Big Book competition for The Persian, which draws on his childhood memories of Azerbaijan and was also shortlisted for the Yasnaya Polyana award. Ilichevsky’s The Mathematician (2011) and Anarchists (2012) finish a “square” of four books that began with Matisse and The Persian. Ilichevsky followed Anarchists with City of Sunset, a book of essays about Jerusalem that has themes that connect with his novels.
Psssst………: Ilichevsky worked as a systems programmer for Intel in California during the 1990s. Matisse and The Persian will be published in French and German translations in 2013.
Ilichevsky’s Places: Born in Sumgait, Azerbaijan, lives in Moscow, where he studied physics.
The Word on Ilichevsky: Reviewer Ekaterina Morozova, writing in Russian Newspaper about Anarchists, noted that the book reminds of classics, including Chekhov and Turgenev. Morozova says that, “One can’t help but regard the novel as successful: it’s simply very good and… charming. In roughly the same way classical literature is charming these days. The thing is that Ilichevsky doesn’t play with literary devices and doesn’t create a false reality, he just opens up, once again, the part of our literary tradition that was hidden under the outstanding (and not so outstanding) texts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.”
Ilichevsky on Ilichevsky: Ilichevsky says he decided to pursue a writing career instead of scientific research because his literary “horizons” felt more achievable. Says Ilichevsky, writing “began to bring more meaning than science. Happiness is a fairly complicated thing: to know what you want to do and do it.”
On Writing: In a 2010 interview, Ilichevsky said things and essences/meanings interest him more than people, saying, “This can be held against a writer but on the other hand, name me just one person in Kafka. Josef K. in The Trial – is that really a person?”
Ilichevsky Recommends: In 2012, when asked, in an interview about Anarchists, what cultural figures he’d take on a ship of anarchy, Ilichevsky said he would take writers Anton Chekhov, whom he sees as an anarchic figure, Velimir Khlebnikov, whom he sees as a genius in his autonomy, plus the Russian rock group Auktyon.