Pavel Basinskii won the 2010 Big Book award for Лев Толстой: Бегство из рая (Lev Tolstoy: Escape from Paradise/Heaven). The publisher’s blurb on ozon.ru describes the book as a reconstruction of what happened between the time Tolstoy left home and his death not long after; the book evidently also describes Tolstoy’s "family drama." The award feels unusually timely because Tolstoy died almost exactly 100 years ago, on November 20, 1910. The book has been quite popular: comments on ozon are very positive, and Escape was no. 6 on today’s pro-books.ru bestseller list. An excerpt is available on Прочтение.
Second prize went to Aleksandr Ilichevskii’s Перс (The Persian), a rather thick novel about a Russian émigré who returns to the Former Soviet Union after a difficult divorce. I tried starting The Persian a month or so ago but couldn’t get into it; I’ll have to give it another go soon, particularly because I’m interested in the Caspian location. An excerpt is available on Прочтение.
Finally, Viktor Pelevin took third prize – after winning the readers’ choice award yesterday, too – for t. Pelevin’s books are always difficult to describe, so I’ll leave plot summary to this article. I’ve never been a big Pelevin fan but t sounds more interesting to me than most of his previous books, in part because he sets part of t in the early 20th century. Ozon has the first pages online.
I haven’t been tracking Big Book opinion enough to have a good feel for favorites, but I will say that, statistically speaking, I was a real failure this year: I read five of the 14 finalists and none of them won any prizes! At least I tried The Persian and (twice!) almost bought t.
Edit: Photos of the ceremony are online here.
Edit: Thank you to The Literary Saloon for mentioning that a (fairly brief) excerpt of the book is available online here, thanks to Rossiyskaya gazeta and The Telegraph. The piece mentions that the book is being translated into English.
Tolstoy death mask image from author Daniel Hass and user Unklscrufy, via Wikipedia.