Lyudmila Petrushevskaya

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Ludmilla Petrushevskaya seven 2009 Shankbone NYC.jpg
In New York City, November 2009.
Born (1938-05-26) 26 May 1938 (age 79)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Genre Fiction, drama, film, songwriting, singing, visual arts

Lyudmila Stefanovna Petrushevskaya (Russian: Людмила Стефановна Петрушевская; born 26 May 1938) is a Russian writer, novelist and playwright.

Life and career[edit]

The Moscow-born Petrushevskaya is regarded as one of Russia's most prominent contemporary writers, whose writing combines postmodernist trends with the psychological insights and parodic touches of writers such as Anton Chekhov. Over the last few decades, she has been one of the most acclaimed contemporary writers at work in Eastern Europe; Publishers Weekly has called her "one of the finest living Russian writers".[1]

In 1979, she was co-writer of the scenario for one of the most influential Russian animated films, Tale of Tales. She served as a jury member in the 3rd Open Russian Festival of Animated Film in 1998.

In a 1993 interview with Sally Laird, translator of her novella The Time: Night, Petrushevskaya said of her own work, "Russia is a land of women Homers, women who tell their stories orally, just like that, without inventing anything. They're extraordinarily talented storytellers. I'm just a listener among them." [2]

Her works include the novels The Time Night (1992) and The Number One, both short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, and Immortal Love, a collection of short stories and monologues. Since the late 1980s her plays, stories and novels have been published in more than 30 languages. In 2003 she was awarded the Pushkin Prize in Russian literature by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Germany. She was awarded the Russian State Prize for arts (2004), the Stanislavsky Award (2005), and the Triumph Prize (2006).

A new collection, There Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, was published in the U.S. by Penguin Books in October 2009 and became a New York Times Book Review bestseller in December 2009. In 2010, it won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection.[3] The first major translation of her work by an American publisher, the stories often contain mystical or allegorical elements which are used to illuminate bleak Soviet and post-Soviet living conditions. The collection of stories has been well reviewed, buttressing Petrushevskaya's reputation in the English-speaking world. An article in Dissent called the collection "a striking introduction to the author's work":

"Petrushevskaya's stories could easily be read as bleak grotesques, populated by envious neighbors, selfish adolescents, and parents who overcompensate with exaggerated love. But ultimately, Petrushevskaya's skillful juxtapositions yield glints of light. Resilience and ingenuity thread through the hardship, whether in the form of forgiveness or love. Such traces of humanity are starker—and brighter—because of the darkness that surrounds them." [4]

This collection was followed in 2013 by a second English language book, There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself.[5]

In her late 60s, Petrushevskaya started a singing career, creating new lyrics for her favorite songs. Since 2008, she has been regularly performing as a singer in Moscow (from nightclubs to major venues such as the Moscow House of Music) and across Russia as well as internationally. Recently, she has begun writing her own songs.

Petrushevskaya is also known as a visual artist; her portraits, nudes, and still lifes have been shown in Russia's major museums (Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, State Museum of Literature) and private galleries.


  • There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby (2009)
  • There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories (2013)
  • There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved her Children Until They Moved Back In (2014)
  • The Girl From The Metropol Hotel Memoir (2017)


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sally Laird "Voices of Russian Literature: Interviews with Ten Contemporary Writers."
  3. ^ World Fantasy Convention (2010). "2010 World Fantasy Award Winners & Nominees". Archived from the original on 2012-10-27. Retrieved 4 Feb 2011. 
  4. ^ Ingrid Norton. "Truth through Fairy Tale: Despair and Hope in the Fiction of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya." Dissent Magazine, October 20th 2009
  5. ^ Elisa Schappell. "Love Stories by Ludmilla Petruskevskaya." New York Times Book Review, February 13th 2013

External links[edit]