Guzel Yakhina

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Guzel Shamilevna Yakhina
Guzel Yakhina, 2015
Guzel Yakhina, 2015
Born1 June 1977
Notable awards

Guzel Shamilyevna Yakhina (Russian: Гузель Шамильевна Яхина, Tatar: Гүзәл Шамил кызы Яхина, romanized: Güzäl Şamil qızı Yaxina, born 1 June 1977, Kazan) is a Russian author and screenwriter. She is a winner of the Big Book literary prize and the Yasnaya Polyana Literary Award.


Guzel Shamilevna Yakhina was born in Kazan.[1] Her mother is a doctor, while her father is an engineer. She spoke Tatar at home and learned Russian only after she started going to daycare.[2]

She studied at the Department of Foreign Languages in the Tatar State University of Humanities and Education. In 1999, she moved to Moscow. In 2015, she graduated from the Moscow School of Film with a degree in screenwriting.[3]

She opposed the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, stating that "Belief in peace was an inalienable part of Soviet childhood, instilling that belief in the identity of each of us. That belief seemed unshakable, as if it would last until the end of time... The news on February 24, 2022, crushed me. My world wasn’t upended, it was simply destroyed," and adding that "This is not my war. I refuse to consider it mine."[4]


Yakhina worked in public relations and advertising. She began her writing career with publications in the journals Neva and Oktyabr. Sections of her debut novel Zuleikha appeared in the journal Siberian Fires.

Yakhina's debut novel is based on the experiences of her grandmother, a Tatar. In the 1930s, as part of dekulakization programme, the Soviets forcefully relocated many Tatars from the European part of the USSR to Siberia. Yakhina's grandmother was among them. She was exiled at a young age and was able to return home only sixteen years later. The novel describes the experiences of Zuleikha, a peasant Tatar woman. Her husband resisted dekulakization and was killed. Zuleikha was transported to Siberia and left in a remote location on Angara River with little means of survival. Zuleikha had to overcome the harsh conditions, build relationships with other exiles and forge her new identity and reasons for living.[1] Yakhina initially wrote the draft as a screenplay, and later rewrote it as a novel. Before being accepted for publication, the novel was rejected by multiple publishers.[5]


Short stories[edit]

  • "Мотылек". Neva (2). 2014.
  • "Винтовка". Oktyabr (5). 2015.


  • Подарок (Gift), 2016[6]


translated into English by Lisa C. Hayden as Zuleikha. London: OneWorld. 2019. ISBN 9781786073495.


  • Yasnaya Polyana, 2015[1]
  • Big Book for Zuleikha, 2015[7]
  • Ticket to the Stars, literary prize of the City of Kazan, 2015[8]
  • Les prix du magazine "Transfuge" de la rentrée littéraire, France 2017[9]


  1. ^ a b c Alexandra Guzeva (December 12, 2015). "3 major Russian books of 2015". Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  2. ^ Jean-Félix de la Ville Baugé (September 9, 2015). "Guzel Yakhina : " La rencontre de mes deux héros est la rencontre de deux âmes nues "". Le Courrier de Russie (in French). Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  3. ^ "Rustam Minnikhanov met with writer Guzel Yakhina" (Press release). Press Service of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan. December 25, 2015. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  4. ^ Yakhina, Guzel (2 March 2022). "Author Guzel Yakhina on 'The Banality of Good'". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  5. ^ Alena Solntseva (December 6, 2015). "Дело рук самих начинающих". The New Times (in Russian). Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  6. ^ "Лауреат "Большой книги" Гузель Яхина победила на конкурсе сценариев" (in Russian). RIA News. February 16, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  7. ^ "Big Book Prize". Britannica. March 17, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  8. ^ Adelia Galieva (September 12, 2015). "Kazan authors Bulat Ibrahim and Guzel Yakhina became the winners of the International Literary Prize". The City of Kazan. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  9. ^ "Les prix littéraires 2017 – La récap – Ballade au fil de …".