Today, Russia has no dearth of successful, celebrated women writers, but it wasn’t always so.
During the Soviet period women writers were perceived by the Communist Party and publishers as either subversive or beside the point. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they negotiated a rather rocky coming-of-age. But now they are “a force in the world of letters,” writers of “confident craftsmanship, wide thematic range and high stylistic standards,” as described by publisher, translator and writer Natasha Perova in her book “Slav Sisters.
In fact, women writers dominate the best-seller lists: Detective fiction writer Daria Dontsova has published more copies of more books than any other living Russian writer, followed by fellow crime writers Alexandra Malinina, Tatiana Ustinova, and Polina Dashkova.
The established writers Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Tatiana Tolstaya, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich and Olga Slavnikova win awards, publish in large editions, speak on radio and television, and pack halls at book fairs and lectures.
And then there is another group of women writers from the former Soviet republics who emigrated and write either in Russian or the language of their new countries: Dina Rubina, Tasha Karluka, Alisa Bialsky, Anna Likhtiman in Israel; Ellen Litman, Anya Ulinich, Olga Grushin, Lara Lapnyar, and Sana Krasikov in the U.S. Some are identifiably Russian in language, culture and subject; others have only a trace of a different sensibility — a rejection of political absolutes, a sensitive appreciation of anyone who is “other.”
Here are five young Russian women writers who are making their mark on contemporary fiction, film, and poetry.