Mikhail Shishkin is the first writer to win all three of Russia’s major book awards—the Russian Booker, Big Book, and National Bestseller—thanks to complex, allusive novels about universal, emotional themes. Like many writers, Shishkin worked in other professions, including journalism, teaching, and translation, before he debuted as a fiction writer in 1993 with the publication of a short story, “Calligraphy Lesson,” in the literary journal Znamia. The journal later recognized the story as debut of the year. Shishkin’s most recent novel, Letter Book, won 2011 Big Book prizes from the competition’s jury and readers.
Andrei Gelasimov was first published in the 1990s, as the Russian translator of Robin Cook’s Sphinx. Gelasimov’s first original work was published in 2001, when Fox Mulder Looks Like a Pig, a novella and four stories, appeared in book form and a story, “The Tender Age,” came out in print in the journal Oktyabr after being published online. His 2002 Thirst was a finalist for the Belkin Award for novellas and won the Apollon Grigoriev Award; Thirst was published in English translation in 2011. Gelasimov’s The Gods of the Steppe, a novel set in Eastern Russia at the end of World War 2, won the 2009 National Bestseller Award.