Quick Study: Fiction writer and journalist Zakhar Prilepin is known for politically engaged novels and stories that carry strong emotions.
The Prilepin File: Zakhar Prilepin’s first book, Pathologies, about a member of the special services serving in Chechnya, draws on Prilepin’s own experiences in Chechnya in the 1990s and landed Prilepin on the short list of the 2005 National Bestseller Award. Prilepin’s next book, Sankya, a novel about a young man involved in radical political opposition, was shortlisted for the Booker and National Bestseller awards in 2006. Prilepin won the National Bestseller in 2008 for his Sin, a novel in stories that went on to win a special $100,000 prize in the Super National Bestseller award in 2011. Sin came out in English translation in 2012. Prilepin also writes nonfiction, including essay collections and a book about Soviet-era writer Leonid Leonov. Prilepin’s most recent books are The Black Monkey and Vosmerka, a book of eight stories that’s named for a model of the Russian Lada car.
Psssst………: Prilepin writes for the opposition paper New Newspaper and is a member of the National Bolshevik Party. In an article published in The Telegraph, Prilepin is quoted saying he’s been arrested “more than 150 times.”
Prilepin’s Places: Born in the village of Ilinka in the Skopinsky region of the Ryazan oblast. Lives in Nizhny Novgorod, where he studied philology at Nizhny Novogorod State University.
The Word on Prilepin: Dmitry Bak, a critic and professor of contemporary literature, said in an interview that he sees Prilepin as “a person who’s managed to break out of the twenty-year closedness of a literature that’s been framed by one theme. All those years, the average post-Soviet novel told about a person no younger than forty: he’d lived through the collapse of our former country—either an empire of totalitarian evil or a preserve of a heaven on earth for equality and fairness… Prilepin was the first to bring people with a completely new world view into the literature.”
Prilepin on Prilepin: When asked in a 2012 interview with Artmageddon about writers he considers “brothers in arms,” Prilepin listed—after Edward Limonov—new realists, “Sergei Shargunov, German Sadulaev, Andrey Rubanov, and Roman Senchin. We understand each other and see the present muddle pretty much the same. In other words, none of us likes the current order of things.”
On Writing: In that 2012 interview with Artmageddon, when asked about autobiographical elements in novels, Prilepin said, “I generally write what I wish and, as far as I understand it, have already proven that it’s not important to me whether I and a reflection of my life are in a text or not—I can write not as I am able, but as I want. And about what I want.”
Prilepin Recommends: Prilepin’s Web site offers a long list of his favorites, from Jonathan Franzen’s Corrections to Mikhail Sholokhov’s Quiet Flows the Don, Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada, and Alexander Terekhov’s Stone Bridge.