1 May 1924|
Ovsyanka, Krasnoyarsk Krai
|Died||29 November 2001
He was conscripted into the Soviet Army in 1942. He was seriously wounded fighting the Germans during the German-Soviet War and after his discharge in 1945 he lived in different regions of Russia including Urals, Chusovoy near Perm and Vologda doing various jobs such as locksmith and smelter.
In 1953 Astafyev published his first collection of stories dedicated mostly to the experience of Russian soldiers and civilians during the German-Soviet War.
After 1962 he became a professional writer authoring realistic often critical of the Soviet regime novels about the war and the Joseph Stalin era. His criticism of the Soviet times gained him popularity.
In the mid-1980s, he became embroiled in significant controversy over his writings followed by accusations of chauvinism and xenophobia when the public learned, through samizdat, about the correspondence between the literary historian Natan Eidelman and Astafyev that had been provoked by alleged racist overtones in Astafyev's work Sad Detective and his The Catching of Gudgeons in Georgia (both 1986), which rudely ridiculed Georgians. At the 8th USSR Writers Union Congress in the summer of 1986, Georgian delegates urged the author to apologize publicly for his insult to the Georgian nation; when he refused, they walked out in protest. In October 1993, he signed the Letter of Forty-Two.
David Gillespie summed up his career as follows:
Astafyev has always been a highly individual writer who conforms to no movements or stereotypes.... He has always remained true to himself, and has retained a certain hard-edged integrity. His novel Prokliaty i ubity [The Damned and the Dead] is a gritty, typically uncompromising picture of war, with many naturalistic descriptions in a style the author has developed since the cathartic Pechal'nyi detektiv. Astafyev remains very much a writer who refuses to be easily categorized: he is neither a Village Prose Writer, nor a writer of "war prose", nor a writer who explores the mistakes of the recent Soviet past. At the same time, he is all of these. Capable of surprising and even shocking his reader, Astafev maintains a deep lyrical sense that has produced what Eidel'man called "the best descriptions of nature for decades". More than any other writer living in Russia today (with the possible exception of Solzhenitsyn), he is a writer who examines man as subjected to and moulded by the total Soviet experience.
Honours and awards
Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University is named in his honour.
- USSR State Prize (1978 - for the story "King Fish" (1976) and 1991 - for his novel "Sighted Staff" (1988))
- Maxim Gorky RSFSR State Prize (1975) - for the story "The Pass" (1959), "Theft" (1966), "Last Bow" (1968), "Shepherd and Shepherdess" (1971)
- State Prize of the Russian Federation (1995 - for his novel "Cursed and killed and 2003 - posthumously)
- Pushkin Prize (Germany, 1997)
- Award "Triumph"
- Hero of Socialist Labour (1989)
- Order of Lenin (1989)
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour, three times (1971, 1974, 1984)
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (1981) - the anniversary of the Union of Soviet Writers
- Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class (1985)
- Order of Friendship - 70th anniversary of his birth
- Order of the Red Star
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 2nd class
- Medal For Courage (1943)
- Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
- The Horse with the Pink Mane, and Other Siberian Stories, Progress Publishers, 1970.
- Queen Fish: A Story in Two Parts and Twelve Episodes, Progress Publishers, 1982.
- To Live Your Life and Other Stories, Raduga Publishers, 1989.
- The Snow is Melting ("Тают снега" - Tayut snega, 1958)
- Theft ("Кража" - Krazha, 1966)
- The Last Tribute ("Последний поклон" - Posledniy poklon, 1968)
- Sheppard and His Wife ("Пастух и пастушка" - Pastukh i pastushka, 1971)
- Czar Fish ("Царь-рыба" - Czar ryba, 1975)
- Sad Detective ("Печальный детектив" - Pechalny detektiv, 1986)
- The Catching of Gudgeons in Georgia ("Ловля пескарей в Грузии" - Lovlya peskarei v Gruzii, 1986)
- The Cursed and the Slain ("Прокляты и убиты" - Proklyaty i ubity, 1994)
- The Will to be Alive ("Так хочется жить" - Tak khochetsya zhit', 1995)
- The Jolly Soldier ("Веселый солдат" - Veselyi soldat, 1999)
- Shlapentokh, Vladimir (1990), Soviet Intellectuals and Political Power: The Post-Stalin Era, pp. 269-270. I.B.Tauris ISBN 1-85043-284-8.
- (Russian) Микаил Мамедов, "ЛИЦО КАВКА3СКОЙ НАЦИОНАЛЬНОСТИ". К ВОПРОСУ О МАССОВЫХ ПРЕДРАССУДКАХ И МЕНЯЮЩИХСЯ СТЕРЕОТИПАХ Central Asia and Caucasus. 04/1999.
- Borovik, Artyom. Waiting for Democracy. Foreign Policy, No. 84 (Autumn, 1991), p. 53.
- "Писатели требуют от правительства решительных действий". Izvestia. 5 October 1993. Retrieved 21 August 2011. (Russian)
- "Bound by Nostalgia", UNESCO Courier, November 2001.
- David Gillespie, "Viktor Petrovich Astaf'yev (1924-)," in Neil Cornwell and Nicole Christian, eds., Reference Guide to Russian Literature (Taylor & Francis, 1998: ISBN 1-884964-10-9), pp. 123-4.
- Prominent Russians: Viktor Astafiev Russiapedia article
- Marking the 75th anniversary of Viktor Astafiev and Victory Day by Lyubov Kuznetsova.
- excerpt, from The Cursed and the Slain New Russian Writing