Translator Anastasia Zavozova About Her Favorite Books

A life 2022

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Translator Anastasia Zavozova About Her Favorite Books
Translator Anastasia Zavozova About Her Favorite Books

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IN THE HEADING "BOOKSHELF" we ask journalists, writers, scientists, curators and other heroines about their literary preferences and publications, which occupy an important place in their bookcase. Today Anastasia Zavozova, editor of special projects Meduza and translator of Donna Tartt's novels The Goldfinch and Little Friend, shares her stories about her favorite books.


Anastasia Zavozova

Meduza special projects editor and translator

By my own standards, I do not read much: on average, 100 books per year

Since childhood, books for me were on a par with the most necessary objects for life: then people stood behind butter, sausage, washing powder and books. We still have a letter at home that dad wrote to mom at the hospital. An important postscript followed the congratulations: “P. S.: Simak was thrown out in the bookstore. Enrolled in the queue. " I learned to read when I was three and have not stopped doing it since then. You know, Alexander Zhitinsky has a wonderful children's book called "Keeper of the Planet." There is a character - a space transmitter in the form of a penguin. He feeds on information, so he needs to read something all the time, and the main character "feeds" him with dictionaries and encyclopedias. When the penguin suddenly has nothing to read and he runs out of letters, he lies on his side, begins to flap his wings, roll his eyes and die. So, I am this penguin.

After the era when there were no books at all, the time began when they suddenly began to sell and translate everything, and my parents and I, by inertia, bought it all up, exchanged it and signed it. Accordingly, I also read absolutely haphazardly. For years, probably until 15, I did not have any favorite writer, I loved everything. For example, Gorky's Childhood is a story that I have read, probably, a hundred times. She was so strong and tough, the peasants were swearing salty there, and at the same time some wonderful and unknown concepts, like a talma with bugles and a filing of the Niva magazine, stretched out from there.

My grandmother worked as a primary school teacher, so her house was littered with school anthologies about the exploits of young Bolsheviks, about children who secretly cooked glycerin to print proclamations and exposed provocateurs, and then, of course, shyly, but firmly shook hands with Lenin and left with him. on an armored car at sunset. I've read it all. Or Turgenev, whom I fell in love with from the age of seven (I had two such loves - Conan Doyle and Turgenev) and read diligently, not understanding anything, but pitying everyone. In Turgenev's work, it seems to me now, most of all, the consumptive beauty of wilting that captured me later, when I got to Scandinavian literature, emerged from the text most of all.

At the age of 15, I simultaneously discovered Jane Austen and Scandinavian literature. It was some kind of new and striking experience: books of different polarities, they significantly expanded the boundaries of my literary world, which until then consisted of novels of plot interspersed with soulful Russian classics. I met the Scandinavians in the translations of Surits, Yakhnina, Gorlina and Andreev, in which I was struck by the unconditional, unconditional acceptance of the magic in life. For example, as it happens in the sagas. On the one hand, we have the full pedigree of the hero, some conditional Thorkil Leather Pants, and he is absolutely real: here are all his relatives, but where he lived - if you come to Iceland, they will show you this place. On the other hand, here is the story of how Torkil fought the troll and defeated him, and no one presents it as something supernatural, everything is mundane and mundane. Here is a man, here are trolls, and they live next to us.

Selma Lagerlöf has a lovely memoir, Morbakka. The book was written already in 1922, but the same unshakable conviction that the magic is near is still visible in it.Along with the sweetest home sketches about how my father built a cowshed, there are stories about how the grandmother drove home, and she was almost dragged into the river by the nekken, a water horse, who appeared to her as a huge white horse of unprecedented beauty. This incredible, very ancient perception of the world won me over. Later I entered philology, learned Danish and took up Scandinavian literature - not the most practical education, but I do not regret it at all.

Jane Austen's novels have become important books for me. Before that, of course, as befits non-grown-up girls, I was a decent Brontean and loved “Teacher” and, of course, “Jen Eyre”. When - much later - Austin fell into my hands, I was amazed at how different - different from Charlotte Bronte - her novels were. In Bronte, after all, the Victorian love of the visual rises to its full height. All her novels are very bright, almost tactile spots of events: a red room, black silk, watercolors, green moss, gray stone, glowing eyes and icy paths.

Austin sharpened the previous tradition, removed everything superfluous from it and literally made six exciting novels from a handful of details: there are no descriptions, no rushes, no heat of passion - everything seems to be simple, but it is deceptive simplicity. The novels of the writer are arranged like real life: in the real world, something more exciting than a taxi ride rarely happens, but a lot of things are constantly happening in your head - and what he said, and what I will say, and how you should behave, and if I I will do this and that, whether it will turn out this way. And these books in my 15-16 years reconciled me with life in general, and in adolescence it is very useful.

I always read when I'm not working. If I'm very lucky, I read something for work: for example, if they order a review of a good book, this is an ideal alignment. I read at breakfast, read on the subway if I manage to go out for lunch, read at lunch, read on the way home, and read in between translations. If I'm tired or if my eyes hurt, I listen to an audiobook, and I take at least three pieces with me in my iPod. At the same time, I don't watch movies and TV shows at all, because I'm bored when they offer a finished picture: I'd rather read a book and draw something in my head. I really like to read while traveling: a ten-hour flight is happiness, because there is no Internet, no one comes to you from the phone, but these hours of reading are the best rest that can ever happen to me. I am sad that I read a little by my own standards: on average, 100 books a year, two a week - but there are so many of them and, as they say, "everything is so tasty" that I want to read everything at once - 200, 300.

I cannot say that books help me to navigate today. In my opinion, it is enough to leave the house, take a ride on the subway, be like a regular office job, make money, and in general, somehow not live on a pink cloud lined with other people's money, and you immediately start to navigate awesomely in today, just so that you even want to navigate this less. I love books that help to turn off today, at least for five to ten minutes. Therefore, I love Dickens very much, this is the equivalent of chicken broth for the sick, a cure for life. I won't trade it for anything, because when you feel bad, when you are especially vulnerable, you can open Dickens - at least The Pickwick Papers or Bleak House - and he won't let you down, because he has no desire to pry or hurt the reader. his reader is always kind.

About 80% of the books I read are in foreign languages. I love English and Scandinavian literature very much, so I read mainly in English and Danish, and when I can master something simple like Stig Larsson, then in Swedish. I decided for myself that I definitely would not read all the books in the world, so here is my German plot, I will huddle it up.Despite the fact that I am a translator - and precisely because I am a translator - it can be difficult for me to read books in translation, I start to think: "What happened here, why is it said this way, and not otherwise?" - and as a result spoil my pleasure. I read Russian literature with caution and is completely undeveloped in this area, did not go further than Teffi and Andreev. Our writers are incredibly talented in conveying hopelessness, and I have such a character that it is always with me.

I love books that help to turn off today, at least for five to ten minutes


Selma Lagerlöf

The Saga of Jöst Berling

This is the very book that started my fascination with Scandinavian literature. Lagerlöf is an incredible storyteller, and she also writes beautifully, and this beauty of the syllable, which is perfectly preserved in translation, conquered me. When I grew up and began to read Lagerlöf in the original, at first I was afraid that everything would be drier or in general differently, because it is known that the Soviet school of translation did not hesitate to color the originals. But no, and in the original, Lagerlöf is still surprisingly good. This a century late fabulousness, magical Vermlandic realism, the story of 12 gentlemen who sold their souls for entertainment and got tired of them, became exactly what somehow hooked me at the end of 15 years. Had I come across it later, I think a miracle would not have happened, so much this book is rooted in some kind of childhood love of beauty.

Jens Peter Jacobsen

Nils Lune

Another book, which as an adult I was very afraid to read in the original, I thought: "What if it will not be so there?" Probably, it was because of her that I became a translator. It was not the story that was told in it that struck me - it was the story of the birth of a typically northern, deaf, mooing rage towards God in the soul of one little man - but the way it was all written. Jacobsen's color painting is almost the best thing that happened to the Danish literature of the 19th century, everything is so convex, so tangible that it is worth reading the beginning of the book once - and there is no escape from this rhythm, from these expressions: “She had brown, Blids' radiant eyes, thin arrowheads of eyebrows, and her nose was as clear as theirs, their strong chin, their puffy lips. She also inherited a strange, bitterly sensual curve of her mouth, but her face was pale, and her hair was soft as silk, light and straight."

August Strindberg


Everyone at Strindberg knows more than the play, and as a teenager I came across his novel “The Lonely”. He helped me cope with adolescent solipsism, when it seems that you are not like everyone else, and you stand alone, wrapped in a black cloak, in the middle of a gray mass that does not want to know you. The novel "Lonely" is amazing: on the one hand, it clearly talks about loneliness, so that a teenager has a lot to fall into with this fixation on himself, and on the other hand, the painful, dull notes of northern literature penetrate your head. I managed to draw the right conclusions - that loneliness deliberately imposed on myself does not always lead to good.

Mikael Niemi

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The translation of this book into Russian is one of the best that I have met. Ruslan Kosynkin, you are still my idol forever. This is a touching, lively, Scandinavian corporeal and angular story of two boys growing up in a Swedish village on the very border with Finland. It takes place in the 70s, wilderness, fistfights, men in the sauna, the biggest holiday is to eat venison at a wedding. And then the guys discover the Beatles and Elvis, and on this hormonally charged musical wave, they take them out into the big adult world. I rarely show emotion while reading, but I remember laughing and crying out loud over this book. We lived with a friend in a hostel, we were about 20 ourselves, and at night we read pieces to each other so that we ourselves were a living illustration of what was happening in it.

Jeanette winterson

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

I read this book not so long ago, but immediately fell in love with it with all my heart - probably because in many ways it is about a passionate, even fierce love for books. This is the autobiography of Winterson, a famous writer who is an ardent feminist. I am very sorry that it has not been translated into Russian. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the book is always presented as an academic and programmatic work. Like, here's the difficult life of a homosexual teenager, an adopted child in a dull mining town, full of hardships and danger. At the same time, the book is not only written in a very recognizable, almost Dickensian tone of the novel of growing up, but it is also devoted to how books - and reading, and libraries, and attentive teachers - can save a person and pull him to the light. At some point, Winterson writes - how good it is that Jane Austen begins with an "A" and she got in the library right away.

Elizabeth gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Gilbert, for all her writing resemblance to a pink pony that flies to you and showers you with sparkles of wisdom, wrote an extremely practical manual for people of creative professions, which I came across in time and was very useful. I liked the idea that there is no need to be afraid to do something, because if it does not work out the first time, then it will work out from the one hundred and first. This story helps a lot: Gilbert tells how, having received a refusal in one magazine, she immediately sent her story to the next, and how one of her manuscripts was first rejected by the same editor, and after three years he accepted - well, because that's what he was in the mood.

Gilbert also says a very good idea that there is no need to shake over your texts and consider them children who were born once and that's it, cannot be replaced. Sometimes it happens that this “child” very quickly needs to cut off a leg, an arm, a head or, in general, reborn everything anew - and such a reverent attitude is very disturbing.

A. S. Byatt


It seems to me that no one better than Bayette could retell the Scandinavian myths for adults. Remember, as a child, everyone had adapted Scandinavian legends about gods and heroes - I had! So Bayette in the Canongate series on myths did the same thing, but for adults, and it is somehow indescribably perfect. Bayette writes, on the one hand, monumental and dense, and on the other - incredibly beautiful, without a shade of vulgarity. In fact, my dream is to translate this book, so I decided that it would be useful to speak about it out loud.

Lev Kassil

Conduit and Schwambrania

Another book from my childhood that I think taught me two things. Firstly, that you can literally from scratch, out of nowhere, go into a wonderful fantasy world, invent a country for yourself, become its king and feel great there - play the pipe and generally be a machinist. And secondly, the Cassilean sense of humor is the best thing that can happen to a child. It is understandable, not lisp. It seems impossible to read Cassil as a child and grow up to be a dull person.

Emily auerbach

Searching for Jane Austen

A very sensible literary study about how Jane Austen from, in general, a poisonous ironic writer turned into an icon of chiklite. I once wrote a dissertation on the perception of Austin in modern literature, but since then I still try to read everything more or less worthwhile that is written about Austin. I was amazed how, in a few years after the death of the writer, they began to put an angelic gloss on her, draw her towels and show her as a tender nyasha - including members of her own family, who did not know what to do with her talent. Auerbach also noticed that many journalists and critics call Austin in the text very familiarly - Jane, although it would never occur to anyone to call Kipling Rudyard and start critical articles about him with phrases like: "Rudyard never got married."

Donna Tartt

Little friend

This novel was the beginning of my love for the way Tartt writes. I remember that I read The Secret History first, of course, I liked it, but somehow not completely.And then, in the summer, I came across "Little Friend", and it was there that Tartt's talent for the image of a rushing, forming inner world of a teenager stood up in full growth. I remember reading it and thinking: "This is the novel I definitely want to translate." It's good that my dream has come true.

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