Quick Study: Sergei Shargunov has attracted attention both as a fiction writer—winning the Debut Prize for long-form fiction in 2001 at the tender age of 21—and as a political writer and youth leader unafraid of controversy.
b The Shargunov File: Since his Debut Prize win in 2001, Shargunov has gone on to win an award from the city of Moscow and to have his Book Without Photographs shortlisted for the National Bestseller Award in 2011. Shargunov has been writing for the journal New World since he was nineteen, supplementing his literary work by writing newspaper columns and commentaries.
Psssst………: Shargunov has said he grew up in an anti-Soviet family and was the only child in his school who didn’t join the October and Pioneer organizations. He says he learned to write before he learned to read, by copying words out of books.
Shargunov’s Places: Moscow, including Moscow State University, where he received an international journalism degree.
The Word on Shargunov: Zakhar Prilepin, Shargunov’s fellow writer, wrote in a piece for New Newspaper that Shargunov and his Book Without Photographs remind him of the mature [writer] Valentin Kataev, and that Shargunov has created a work “in the genre of classic Russian memoir writing, always balanced on the edge of belles lettres… that’s why the reader’s heart immediately takes to the book.” Prilepin says he’d give the book to his mother to read.
Shargunov on Shargunov: When asked in an interview about his generation, which grew up in the 1990s, Shargunov agreed with the interviewer that there is a feeling of loss. “I can say for myself that I’m not a person of ideology but a person of ideals. I have the impression the people around me are getting less complex and more primitive, that malice is becoming deep, complicated, multidimensional, and evasive. Everything has now become so cynical that emptiness has won out.”
On Writing: Shargunov said in an interview that he thinks a social aspect has returned to writing, that postmodernism has been replaced by a form of realism that’s been altered and freshened by avant-garde literary devices. He predicts that novels about the lives and fates of ordinary people, like engineers, officers, and taxi drivers, will be valued, saying, “Those are also extreme challenges if taken against the backdrop of philological and glossy smoothness.”
Shargunov Recommends: In various interviews, when asked about literary trends and recommendations, Shargunov has mentioned works such as Roman Senchin’s Information and The Yeltyshevs, Zakhar Prilepin’s Black Monkey, and Alexander Terekhov’s The Stone Bridge. In an April 2011 interview, Shargunov mentions Prilepin and Senchin, plus German Sadulaev, as writers who, like him, want to remain honest. He has also recommended fellow Debut Prize winner Alisa Ganieva’s long story Salam, Dalgat! Writers he’s mentioned rereading include Ivan Bunin, Anton Chekhov, Yury Trifonov, and Fazil Iskander.
Photo Credit: Rodrigo Fernandez, Creative Commons