23 February 2013, 16:11

Lyudmila Ulitskaya, a living classic

Lyudmila Ulitskaya, a living classic

Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya has turned 70. Ms. Ulitskaya is often referred to as a living classic. Her books have received many Russian and foreign awards and have been translated into 32 languages. Quite untypically, Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s books are read by both intellectuals and rank-and-file people.

Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya has turned 70.

Ms. Ulitskaya is often referred to as a living classic. Her books have received many Russian and foreign awards and have been translated into 32 languages.

Quite untypically, Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s books are read by both intellectuals and rank-and-file people. Publicist Alexander Arkhangelsky says:

“It is quite easy for a writer to target on a certain type of people – maybe, only a small bunch – who would read his or her books, and to write especially for them, to write what they would read, what they would like. But Ms. Ulistskaya has chosen another way. Her first books were addressed to people who, at first sight, would have hardly become her permanent readers – but she somehow managed to make them follow her.”

Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s plays are often staged in theaters, and quite a few of her books have been screened. Her play “Russian Jam”, which has a remark “After Chekhov”, has been staged in many theaters in Russia and abroad. Recently, one of St. Petersburg’s theaters staged her novel “The Green Tent”. A film based on Ms. Ulitskaya’s another novel, “Funeral Party”, has been made, and her first novel, “Kukotsky's Case”, was put in the basis of a TV series.

Actress Yelena Dobrovolskaya, who plays in another TV series based on a novel by Ulitskaya, “Women’s Lies”, tries to explain why Ulitskaya’s books are so popular:

“The secret is simple. Ludmila Ulitskaya writes about things that consider every person – the meaning of life, love and death.”

Success came to Ms. Ulitskaya already after her first novel, “Sonechka”, which was published in the early 1990s. Right after it was published in Russia, “Sonechka” was translated into French, published in France and, very soon, received the prestigious Medici Prize “for the author’s outstanding talent”.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya says that she started to write novels unexpectedly even for herself. Before that, her profession was a biologist.

“When I was writing my first novel,” she says, “I had serious doubts whether this really was my vocation. Before that, I never thought of writing novels, I had always perceived myself as a scientist. At that time, I was already 50, which was probably a bit too late to start as a writer. At this age, many people are already renowned writers. But, on the other hand, I had nowhere to hurry, had I? I was absolutely free, it depended only on me whether to write or not to write – then, why not write, after all? It is probably this feeling of freedom that helped me.”

At present, Lyudmila Ulitskaya is already an author of 10 books of short stories and several novels and plays. One of her latest novels, “Daniel Stein, Interpreter”, has received Russia’s most prestigious book prize, called “The Big Book”.

As a successor of the traditions of the Russian classical literature, Lyudmila Ulitskaya believes that books should make people better from the moral point of view. For this, she has initiated a project of a series of children’s books, which tell small children about customs of various peoples and about various religions. The writer believes that such books may help children to be tolerant to other people’s ways.

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