Quick Study: Boris Minaev’s career in letters weaves together seemingly disparate threads: he edits a journal for men that focuses on reading material, and his books include a biography of Boris Yeltsin and collections of stories about a Russian boy.
The Minaev File: Journalist, fiction writer, and editor Boris Minaev is probably best known among Russian readers for two very different works: a 2010 biography of Boris Yeltsin and a collection of short stories about a boy named Lyova that was first published in book form in 2001. Minaev is head editor of the magazine Medved (Bear), which calls itself “a men’s journal for reading.” Minaev fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming a journalist; he has worked for several other publications, including the magazine Ogonyok and the newspaper Komsomolskaya pravda.
Psssst………: Minaev began writing as a teenager, composing stories and notes about happenings in the yard around his building.
Minaev’s Places: Moscow: born, raised, and educated, studying in Moscow State University’s journalism department.
The Word on Minaev: Dmitry Bykov called Minaev’s Yeltsin “the most important book of the 23rd Moscow Book Fair,” and Boris Yeltsin’s widow, Naina Yeltsina, praised the book as “a complete, honest, and serious biography of Boris Nikolaevich.” A review of Minaev’s The Psychologist, Or Doctor Levin’s Mistake, includes praise of Minaev’s story collection Lyova’s Childhood, saying the book reads easily, “it draws you in from the first line and doesn’t let you go until the last.”
Minaev on Minaev: When Dmitry Bykov asked Minaev in an interview why he wrote the Yeltsin biography, Minaev said the book was partially autobiographical, saying, “Yeltsin was a part of our life, he entered every biography. I don’t pretend objectivity: this book is as much about me, about how the future suddenly came into our life. The future can’t be calm, smooth, or joyful. But we all changed irrevocably. I wrote this book to understand us as we were then. And I hope that it will help keep us from losing ourselves.”
On Writing: Minaev said in 2002 that he particularly likes writing outside the city, “in absolute solitude. I write articles at night, at home. And I love writing prose in Peredelkino. That’s the last writerly place left. But I just can’t write at the dacha, it’s noisy and stuffy there.”
Minaev Recommends: In a 2002 interview Minaev said he had no current favorite books but he listed writers that affected him as a student: Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Faulkner, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Bunin, Yury Trifonov, Kurt Vonnegut, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, and Mikhail Bulgakov. Among contemporary writers, his 2002 favorites included Boris Akunin, Viktor Pelevin, and Liudmila Ulitskaya.
Photo credit: Andrey Kovalyov, Creative Commons