Anna Politkovskaya wins translation prize

October 26, 2010
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Earlier today, over at the New Yorker‘s Book Bench blog, Jenny Hendrix alerted us to the news that the late journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been awarded PEN English’s first-ever award for literature in translation for her book, Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy. According to Hendrix, the book “is the story of a democracy in collapse, in which soldiers are slaves, judges are corrupt, and provincial oligarchs rule,” and it paints a particularly brutal portrait of Vladimir Putin.
jacket imageIt was Russia’s war in Chechnya that ignited Politkovskaya’s fury with Putin, and her experiences there are documented in A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya. Centered on stories of those caught in the crossfire of the Chechen conflict, A Small Corner of Hell recounts the horrors of living in the midst of the war, examines how the war has affected Russian society, and takes a hard look at how people on both sides are profiting from it, from the guards who accept bribes from Chechens out after curfew to the United Nations. (You can read an excerpt from the book here.)
The conclusion of Hendrix’s post is a moving testament to the legacy of this courageous journalist, who was assassinated in 2006:

There were never very many like her, and no doubt after her death there are fewer. But the case of Politkovskaya reminds us that as long as people remain to note what they see and hear, censorship won’t work: even after voices such as Politkovskaya’s are silenced, the written word remains to tell us how it was.

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