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Oleg Pavlov

Winner of the Solzhenitsyn Prize 2012 and the Russian Booker Prize 2002


Oleg Pavlov is one of the most highly-regarded Russian writers today. He has won the Russian Booker Prize (2002) and Solzhenitsyn Prize (2012) among many other awards. Born in Moscow in 1970, Pavlov spent his military service as a prison guard in Kazakhstan. Many of the incidents portrayed in his fiction were inspired by his experiences there: he recalls how he found himself reading about Karabas – the very camp he had worked at – in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. He then became Solzhenitsyn’s assistant and was inspired to continue the great writer’s work. Pavlov’s writing is firmly in the tradition of great Russian novelists such as Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn.

He was only 24 years old when his first novel, Captain of the Steppe, was published, receiving praise not only from critics but from the jury of the Russian Booker Prize, which shortlisted the novel for the 1995 award. Pavlov went on to win the Prize in 2002 with his next book, The Matiushin Case (English translation published in 2014 by And Other Stories). The Matiushin Case was the second novel in what would become the thematic trilogy set in the last days of the Soviet empire: Tales from the Last Days. All three novels in the trilogy are stand-alone novels and And Other Stories will publish the third book, Requiem for a Soldier in 2015.

More information

  • Oleg Pavlov visited the UK in April 2013. Details of this are on our blog.
  • And Other Stories found Oleg Pavlov via discussion in our 2011 Russian Reading Group.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before Captain of the Steppe’s publication, you would have received one of the first copies of the book, in which you are thanked by name – as well as up to 5 other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing here.

Captain of the Steppe

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More information

  • Translated by Ian Appleby.
  • Read more about Captain of the Steppe in the book section.
  • Captain of the Steppe was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize 2012 and the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger 2012.

The Matiushin Case

The Matiushin Case RGB

More information

  • Translated by Andrew Bromfield.
  • Read more about The Matiushin Case in the book section.
  • The Matiushin Case is the second volume in the Russian Booker winning trilogy, Tales from the Last Days, published by And Other Stories in July 2014.

Praise for Captain of the Steppe

  • ‘Pavlov imbues his world with a very particular flavour: the mixture of tragedy, absurdity and black comedy that runs in the veins of Russian literature as far back as the work of Nikolai Gogol … Pavlov fashions a disquieting and comic elegy.’ Marcel Theroux
  • ‘Captain of the Steppe combines a traditional Russian faith in the humanising power of literature with a boisterous energy and imagination. Pavlov wrote two further army novels which, along with Captain of the Steppe, have become known as the Tales of the Last Days trilogy, and we can be grateful that both are due for publication by And Other Stories.’ Michael Nicholson, The Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘A comedy as dark and bitter as ersatz coffee.’ Daily Mail
  • ‘Pavlov skillfully navigates the razor-thin gap between dark comedy and tragedy’ Words without Borders
  • ‘His tales delve into the world of soldiers sent to the bleakest regions of central Asia, where their hopelessness ends up matching that of their prisoners, whose absurd routine, hunger and boredom they share. This is Berg’s Wozzek set in Buzzati’s Tartar Steppe.’ Jacque Franck,
  • ‘An extraordinary portraitist, with a nose for trenchant, black humour, Oleg Pavlov delves into the shadowy outer edges of existence.’ France Culture
  • ‘Poetry, sensuality, humour, metaphoric genius’ Philippe Delaroche, L’Express Culture avec Lire
  • ‘Oleg Pavlov is one of the best contemporary Russian authors … There are moments of great humanity in this book, for Pavlov gives a voice to every human being, even the most pathetic. When nothing of value remains, we still have language.’ Nils C. Ahl, Art Press
  • ‘A dark, absurdist satire: both funny and depressing … Pavlov has great powers of description and the translation by Ian Appleby is consistent in tone, and both fluent and flowing … It is not hard to see why it was shortlisted for the Russian Booker.’ Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books



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Captain of the Steppe


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