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6 Best Novels by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

Updated on July 20, 2019
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Prachi is a voracious reader and a bibliophile. She has her own library with a collection of more than thousands of books of different genre

Literature is humanity’s best friend. Poetry is the core of literature. It is the highest aggregation of everything possible, which is the best in the universe and in a man. It is the only real food for your soul.

— Lyudmila Ulitskaya
Lyudmila Ulitskaya
Lyudmila Ulitskaya

Lyudmila Evgenyevna Ulitskaya is a globally renowned Russian novelist as well as a short story writer.

Amazing Facts about Lyudmila Ulitskaya

  • She has many prestigious awards to her name including the Austrian State Prize.
  • She, ethnically and culturally, considers herself as Jews, while following Christianity as her religion.
  • She is a graduate in genetics and has good experience of biochemistry field.
  • She started her literary career while working as a literary consultant at the Jewish Drama Theatre.
  • She is the first woman to receive the Russian Booker Prize.
  • She holds the record for the most nominations for the prize.

She writes on various themes. The major ones are:

  • Religious and ethnic tolerance
  • Problems in Soviet Culture
  • Role of women in society
  • Everyday life

She has authored many internationally famous books, here are the best ones that you should add to your reading list:

1. Sonechka

  • Sonechka was a nominee for the Russian Booker Prize.
  • The title is the name of the protagonist, who is a book lover and completely immersed in Russian literature.
  • One day, she is proposed by a man named Robert and they get married, living a happy married life.
  • They have a daughter named Tanya with whom they’ve started a new life and are moving around Russia.
  • Things take a turn when a new girl named Jasia enters their life and after a while, Robert’s health starts to take a toll on him.
  • The novella focuses on the women’s equation with maternity and prostitution, which is widely prevailing in Russian culture.
  • The three women Tanya, Jasia and Sonechka are drastically different in their personality. While Tanya is portrayed as a selfish girl and Jasia tries to please others to become an actress, Sonechka is highly devoted to her household duties.

2. The Big Green Tent

  • The story is set after the death of Joseph Stalin. It describes Russia’s political state that drastically changed in the 11 years.
  • The government is, now, involved with every matter of the Russian citizens through the development of political strategies.
  • The story is about three friends - Ilya, Mikha, and Sanya who belong to the same school and are bullied every day in their locality.
  • As the story progresses, they experience lots of joy and struggles together and stay close until high school.
  • Their life changes when the time arrives to choose their career, giving a wave to new beginnings.
  • Ilya loves photography, Mikha has a passion for literature, and Sanya is interested in music.
  • Along with the description of their loyal and strong friendship, the novel also explores the prevalent Soviet government rules.

3. The Kukotsky Enigma

  • The Kukotsky Enigma won the Russian Booker Prize in the year 2001.
  • The novel explores the life of a gynecologist named Pavel Alekseevich Kukotsky and his family.
  • It is divided into four parts. The first one is about his life and family members. Second describes his wife’s experiences and dreams while hanging between life and death.
  • The third part covers their life till the death of their daughter, Tanya and the last is a brief epilogue.
  • The story also covers the rules that prohibited abortion until the mid-1960s.
  • It is one of the highly acclaimed works of Ulitskaya.

4. Medea and her children

  • Medea is the last remaining pure Greek and thus, an iconic figure in the Crimean village.
  • Her full name is Medea Georgievna Sinoply Mendez and her family has lived on the coast for the past so many centuries.
  • Medea has no children. She is the head of a large family. All of them gather at her home every spring and summer. The family includes her nieces, nephew, and friends.
  • The story focuses on the love triangle, erotic attraction, old memories, and a broken heart.
  • Ulitskaya has brilliantly captured the moments in her novel perfectly describing each character and giving the readers a scene to visualize.
  • Her words make you dive deep into this Russian family and their individual life during war, upheaval, and dislocation of the 20th century Russia.

5. The Funeral Party

  • The story is set in New York, where a group of Russian emigres gathers together, in a small apartment, around the sickbed of Alik, a free-spirited painter.
  • Among the people, there’s his wife who wants him to be baptized, his former partner, who pays the bills and her daughter. Also, an elder woman named Maria who has brought magical herbs.
  • Ulitskaya describes the history of each character as they arrive in the Manhattan apartment to see the ill Alik.
  • The novel also covers the difference between Russian and American culture and how it affects the Russian emigres in New York City.
  • The Funeral Party is a perfect blend of satire, character study, and elegy. It also remarkably describes the Immigrant experience in America.

6. Daniel Stein, Interpreter

  • Daniel Sten, Interpreter is based on the real-life of Oswald Rufeisen, who was a Polish-born Jew and known for surviving the Holocaust and then, working as a Catholic priest.
  • The story swings from past to modern times describing the situation during World War || and tragedies of different countries including Israel, Germany, Russia, and America.
  • It is full of remarkable contradictions and gallant faith and how people manage to survive during such savage wars and hardships.
  • It also discusses different aspects of different religions, especially existing in modern Israel.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya is one of the rarest modern writers to put down the thoughts as they are. She has originality and her work is thought-provoking. Reading these books will make you realize why she is a prestigious writer and rightly called as a literary legend.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma

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