(c) Cato Lein


Lyudmila Ulitskaya  [ Russia ]

Lyudmila Ulitskaya was born in 1943 in Davlekanovo, Bashkiria, where her family was sent after being evacuated during World War II. She grew up in Moscow. After studying biology, she worked as a geneticist at the Institute of General Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR beginning in 1967. She was dismissed in 1970 for disseminating samizdat literature and worked for two years at the Jewish Chamber Music Theater as a literary consultant. She eventually became a freelance writer. Her first publication, the long story »Сонечка« (1992; »Sonechka«, 2005), appeared in the literary magazine »Novyj mir«. In 1994, the book was named best translated book of the year in France and earned the author the French Medici Prize. In it, as in her subsequent stories and novels, she depicts the everyday world of people in the Soviet Union whose lives are intensely intertwined. Their strong emotions are challenged by the adversities of everyday life. In terms of style, she brings together Russian and Jewish narrative traditions and raises them to a contemporary level. Her novel »Даниэль Штайн, переводчик« (2006; »Daniel Stein, Interpreter«, 2011) is based on the life narrative of a Jewish Catholic who was able to save many of his fellow believers through his informational advantage as an interpreter for the Belarusians who were allied with the Nazis. He later converted to Catholicism and eventually went to Israel, where as a monk he founded a community modeled upon the early Christians. His death in 1998 was most likely an assassination disguised as a traffic accident. The large-scale social panorama »Зелёный шатёр« (2011; »The Big Green Tent«, 2011) tells of three friends who become dissidents in the Soviet Union. »Лестница Якова« (2015; »Jacob’s Ladder«, 2019) is also a panoramic account of Russian society in the 20th century, this time through the story of an extended family. »Without compromise, Ulitzkaja shows what the Soviet system made of people too weak to resist it … The novel is Ulitzkaja’s most personal book.« (»Süddeutsche Zeitung«) Her most recent publication is »Бумажный театр: непроза« (tr: Paper Theatre. No-Prose), a collection of screenplays, diary entries, memoirs, and plays.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya has also openly advocated for her political beliefs. Thus, in addition to criticizing Vladimir Putin’s policies, in March 2014 she joined other scholars and cultural figures in expressing their opposition to the Russian authorities’ policies in Crimea.

Her books have been translated into more than 33 languages. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Alexandr Men Prize for intercultural mediation between Russia and Germany in 2008, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2014, and the Siegfried Lenz Prize in 2020. The author lives and works in Moscow.





Новый мир, 1992


Бедные родственники


Москва, 1993


Медея и её дети

Новый Мир, № 3 и 4, 1996


Весёлые похороны


Москва, 1997


Казус Кукоцкого

Новый мир, № 8 и 9, 2000




Москва, 2002


Сквозная линия


Москва, 2002


Искренне ваш Шурик


Москва, 2003


Люди нашего царя


Москва, 2005


Даниэль Штайн, переводчик


Москва, 2006


Русское варенье и другое


Москва, 2008


Зелёный шатёр


Москва, 2011


Священный мусор


Москва, 2012


Детство 45-53. А завтра будет счастье


Москва, 2013


Лестница Якова


Москва, 2015


Дар нерукотворный


Москва, 2016


О теле души

Лекторий Прямая Речь

Москва, 2019


Бумажный театр: непроза


Москва, 2020






New York, 2005

[Translation Arch Tait]


Medea and Her Children


New York, 1996

[Translation Arch Tait]


The Funeral Party


New York, 1997

[Translation Arch Tait]


The Kukotsky Enigma

Northwestern University Press

Evanston, 2016

[Translation Diane Nemec Ignashev]


Daniel Stein, Interpreter

Overlook Press

New York, 2011

[Translation Arch Tait]


The Big Green Tent

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

New York, 2011

[Translation Bela Shayevich]


Jacob’s Ladder

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

New York, 2019

[Translation Polly Gannon]