Marina Palei

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Marina Palei
Marina Palei in St-Petersburg
Born 1 February 1955 (1955-02)
St-Petersburg, Russia
Occupation Writer
Nationality Dutch
Notable works Evgesha and Annushka
Cabiria of the Obvodnyi Channel
The Lunch
Raya & Aad
A Tribute to Salamander

Marina Anatolyevna Palei (née Spivak, in Russian: Мари́на Анато́льевна Пале́й; born 1 February 1955 in Leningrad) is a Russian scriptwriter, journalist, novelist and translator.

Life and work[edit]

Palei was born in Leningrad, where her Ukrainian Jewish parents were studying engineering.[1] She was still a child when her parents divorced, and she spent her teenage years with her maternal grandparents in Vsevolozhsk.[2] In 1972, Palei began studying epidemiology at the Leningrad Institute of Medicine. After graduating in 1978, she worked in several temporary jobs, among them as a medical technician, cleaning woman, and model,and she participated in an amateur theater group.[3] After suffering a nervous breakdown in 1983, Palei recovered and, starting in 1984, began to write poetry.[4] She also began work as a night watchman, a choice typical for writers and artists of her generation, symbolizing their desire to opt out of officially sanctioned cultural institutions while allowing them state-mandated employment with long stretches of time to write.

Irina Rodnyanskaya, a family friend and editor at the literary journal Novyi mir, encouraged Palei to apply to the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute (in Russian: Литературный институт им. А. М. Горького). She was accepted, one of only five women in her class of eighty, and began writing fiction while taking classes at the institute. She gave up her night watchman job in 1987 to concentrate on writing, and her first publications were primarily literary criticism and reviews. It was during this time that Palei also became involved in the dissident movement, joining the independent Democratic Union (in Russian: Демократический союз) party in 1988.

Palei's first published fiction was a short story, "Composition on Red and Blue"(later renamed "Virage"). The story was printed in "Sobesednik" (the weekly supplement to "Komsomolskaya Pravda") in 1989. However, it was the novella "Evgesha and Annushka" ("Znamya" 1990) that made her famous. In 1991, Palei's novella, "Cabiria from the Bypass Canal," was published in Novy Mir," bringing her instant critical acclaim and a nomination for the prestigious Russian Booker Prize. Despite harassment from the KGB for her political activities, Palei continued to publish. She graduated cum laude in 1991 and was invited to join the Writers' Union.[5] Although Palei emigrated to the Netherlands in 1995, she has continued to publish in Russia. Her first collection, Birthplace of the Wind (Russian: Месторождение ветра), which gathered together her best-known works and previously published story cycles, was published in 1998.[6] This collection was followed by "Long Distance, ili Slavyanskyi Akcent" ("Long Distance or the Slavic Accent") – 2000, Vagrius, "The Lunch" (2000, Inapress) and "Klemens" (2007, Vremya).

Palei's prose has been translated into many languages, including English, German, French, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, Slovakian, Slovenian, Estonian, Latvian, and Japanese.

Palei's many activities also include translations. She translated Italian, Dutch, Greek, English and Slovenian poetry and Flemish prose.

Membership in organizations[edit]

  • International PEN-Club
  • Vereniging van Schrijvers en Vertalers (VSenV) – Dutch Association of Writers and Translators
  • Union of Moscow Writers
  • Union of the Russian Writers

Literary awards[edit]


  • "The Lunch" novel (Russian: "Ланч") – Smirnoff-Booker Prize 2000[7]
  • "The Farm" novella (Russian: "Хутор") – I.P. Belkin Prize 2005 (Novella of the Year Prize)
  • "Klemens" novel – The Big Book Prize(Russian: Большая книга) 2006
  • "Raya & Aad" novella (Russian: "Рая & Аад") – I.P. Belkin Prize 2009


  • "Choir" novel – The Russian Award 2011


Publications in Russia[edit]


  • "Ward of Lost Souls" (in other translations: "Department of the Lost"; "The Bloody Women's Ward"; "The Losers' Division")- Moskovskii Rabochii publishing house, Moscow, 1991.
  • "Wind-Field" – Limbus Press publishing house, Saint-Petersburg, 1998.
  • "Long Distance, or the Slavic Accent" – Vagrius publishing house, Moscow, 2000.
  • "The Lunch" – Inapress publishing house, Saint-Petersburg, 2000.
  • "Klemens" – Vremya publishing house, Moscow, 2007.
  • "Choir" (novel), including novella "Raya and Aad" (Eksmo publishing house. The Author series, 2011)
  • "Cabiria of the Obvodnyi Channel". Romance novella's and Short Stories. (Eksmo publishing house. The Author's series, 2012)
  • "Tribute to Salamander". Petersburg's novel. (Eksmo publishing house. The Author series, 2012).
  • "The Lunch". Novel-riot. (Eksmo publishing house. The Author series, 2012).
  • "Zhora Zhirnyago". Novel-pamphlet.(Eksmo publishing house. The Author series, 2012).
  • "Klemens". Novel. (Eksmo publishing house. The Author series, 2012).


In 2013 EKSMO publishing house plans to release the following books Marina Paley:

  • Tales. "Book of Dedications". ("Eksmo." The Author Series. M.)
  • Collection of short stories ("Eksmo." The Author Series. M.)
  • «Long Distance, or the Slavic Accent," and other plays. ("Eksmo." The Author Series. M.)
  • «The Report of an Independent Astronaut." Essays, journalism. ("Eksmo." The Author Series. M.)

Publications abroad[edit]


  • "Die Cabiria vom Umleitungskanal" (Rowohlt, 1992). Germany
  • "Herinnerd huis" (Pegasus, 1995). The Netherlands
  • "Ringkanali Cabiria" ( Perioodika, 1995). Estonia
  • "Cabiria di Pietroburgo" (Il Saggiatore, 1996). Italy
  • "Rückwärtsgang der Sonne" (Droschl, 1997). Austria
  • "Inmitten von fremden Ernten" (Kitab, 2010). Austria
  • "Klemens" (Voland, 2011). Italy
  • "Küla" (SA Kultuurileht, 2012). Estonia


  • The anthology “Kali for Women” – a short story: The Bloody Women's Ward – Conscience Deluded, Deli, India, 1994 (in English)
  • The anthology “Lives in Transit”- a short stories: Rendezvous; The Losers' Division – Ardis, US, 1995 (in English)
  • Almanac "Glas" (New Russian Writing) – a short story: The Bloody Women's Ward – 3, US, UK, Russia, 1995 (in English)
  • The anthology “Present Imperfect” – a fragment: Cabiria from the Bypass – Westview Press, Colorado (US ), Oxford (UK), 1996 (in English)
  • Тhe anthology "Puhu, Maria!" – a novel Cabiria Kanavanrannan – Tammi, Helsinki, 1997 (in Finnish)
  • The anthology "Russian Women Writing" – a short story Skazki Andersena – Shinchosha, Tokyo, Japan, 1998 (in Japanese).
  • Тhe anthology "Poetik der Grenze": "Der Aus: -gang, weg”(Еssay) – Steirische Verlagsgesellschaft, Graz, Austria, 2003 (in German)
  • Тhe anthology “Graz von Aussen”: “Graz: Ein unterhaltsames Hologramm"(Еssay) – Droschl, Graz, Austria 2003 (in German)
  • Тhe anthology "Immerhin ein Ausweg": "Der Tag des Pappelflaums" (Erzählung) – Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München, Germany, 2003 (in Russian and German)
  • The anthology "Russisk samtidslitteratur": "Fra Long distance, eller slavisk aksent" (Script-Novella) – NORAHL & EFTF, Norway, 2007 (in Norwegian)
  • The anthology "Halbwegs zum Himmel" (Essay) – Leykam, Graz, Austria, 2007 (in German)


  1. ^ Prokhorov, Alexander (2004), "Marina Anatol'evna Palei", in Balina, Marina, Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 285, Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, pp. 196–201, ISBN 0-7876-6822-2 
  2. ^ Prokhorov, Alexander (2004), "Marina Anatol'evna Palei", in Balina, Marina, Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 285, Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, pp. 196–201, ISBN 0-7876-6822-2 
  3. ^ Tomei, C. (1999). Russian women writers. Taylor & Francis. p. 1405. ISBN 9780815317975. 
  4. ^ Tomei, C. (1999). Russian women writers. Taylor & Francis. p. 1405. ISBN 9780815317975. 
  5. ^ Tomei, C. (1999). Russian women writers. Taylor & Francis. p. 1405. ISBN 9780815317975. 
  6. ^ Prokhorov, Alexander (2004), "Marina Anatol'evna Palei", in Balina, Marina, Dictionary of Literary Biography, v. 285, Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, pp. 196–201, ISBN 0-7876-6822-2 
  7. ^ "The Russian Booker Awards dinner". The Russia Journal. 9 December 2000. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 

External links[edit]