Victor Pelevin

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Victor Pelevin
Native name
Пелевин, Виктор Олегович
BornVictor Olegovich Pelevin
(1962-11-22) 22 November 1962 (age 57)
Moscow, Soviet Union
LanguageRussian, English

Victor Olegovich Pelevin (Russian: Ви́ктор Оле́гович Пеле́вин, IPA: [ˈvʲiktər ɐˈlʲɛɡəvʲɪtɕ pʲɪˈlʲevʲɪn], born 22 November 1962) is a Russian fiction writer, the author of novels Omon Ra, Chapayev and Void, and Generation P. He is a laureate of multiple literary awards including the Russian Little Booker Prize (1993) and the Russian National Bestseller (2004). His books are multi-layered postmodernist texts fusing elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies while carrying conventions of the science fiction genre. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity literary movement.[1]


Victor Olegovich Pelevin was born in Moscow on 22 November 1962 to Zinaida Semenovna Efremova, an English teacher, and Oleg Anatolyevich Pelevin, a teacher at the military department of Bauman University. He lived on Tverskoy Boulevard in Moscow, later moving to Chertanovo. In 1979 Pelevin graduated from an elite high school with a special English program located on Stanislavskogo Street in the centre of Moscow, now Kaptsov Gymnasium #1520.

He then attended the Moscow Power Engineering Institute (MPEI) graduating with a degree in electromechanical engineering in 1985. In April of that year MPEI Department of Electrical Transport hired him as engineer. Pelevin served in the Russian Air Force. From 1987 to 1989 Pelevin attended the MPEI graduate school.

Pelevin is often in the east. He has been to Nepal, South Korea, China and Japan. While he does not call himself a Buddhist, he is engaged in Buddhist practices. Pelevin has repeatedly said that despite the fact that his characters use drugs, he is not an addict even though he has experimented with mind-expanding substances in his youth. Pelevin is not married. As of the beginning of the 2000s, he lived in Australia.

Literary career[edit]

In 1989 Pelevin attended Mikhail Lobanov's creative writing seminar at Maxim Gorky Literary Institute. While studying at the Institute Pelevin met the young novelist Albert Egazarov and the poet Victor Kulle, later a literary critic. Pelevin was expelled from the Institute in 1991. Egazarov and Kulle went on to found a publishing house, first called The Day, then The Raven and Myth, for which Pelevin has edited three volumes of Carlos Castaneda's work.

From 1989 to 1990 Pelevin worked as a staff reporter of the magazine Face to Face. In 1989 he also began to work in the journal Nauka i Religiya (Science and Religion), where he edited a series of articles on eastern mysticism. In 1989 Nauka i Religiya published Pelevin's first short story "Ignat the Sorcerer and the People".

In 1992 Pelevin published his first collection of stories The Blue Lantern. A year later it received the Russian Little Booker Prize. In 1994 it received InterPressCon and the Bronze Snail awards. In March 1992 Pelevin published his first novel Omon Ra in the literary journal Znamya. The novel attracted the attention of literary critics and was nominated for the Booker Prize. In April 1993, the same journal published Pelevin's next novel The Life of Insects. In 1993 Pelevin published an essay "John Fowles and the tragedy of Russian liberalism" in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The essay was the writer's answer to some negative critics reaction to his work. In the same year Pelevin was admitted to the Russian Union of Journalists.

In 1996, Pelevin participated in the International Writing Program residency at the University of Iowa.[2] That same year, Znamya published Pelevin's novel Chapayev and Void. Critics called it "the first Zen Buddhist novel in Russian". The writer himself called it "the first novel which takes place in an absolute vacuum". In 1997 the novel won Russia's Strannik Award for science fiction, and in 2001 it was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award.

In 1999, Pelevin's novel Generation P was published. Over 3.5 million copies have been sold worldwide. The book received a number of awards including Germany's Richard Schoenfeld prize.

In 2003 Pelevin published the novel The Dialectics of Transition Period from Out of Nowhere to Nowhere or DTP (NN), receiving the Apollon Grigoryev Prize in 2003 and the National Bestseller award in 2004. DTP (NN) was also shortlisted for the Andrei Bely Prize in 2003.

In 2006 Eksmo published Pelevin's novel Empire V. The novel was shortlisted for the Russian Big Book award. The text of Empire V appeared on the Internet even before the publication of the novel. Representatives of Eksmo claimed that it was a result of a theft, but some speculated that it was a marketing ploy.

In October 2009 the novel t was published. The author received the third award of the fifth season of the Big Book award (2009-2010) and won the reader choice vote.

In December 2011, Eksmo released Pelevin's novel S.N.U.F.F. which received the E-book award for "Prose of the Year" in February 2012.

Literary critics have noted Pelevin's postmodernist and absurdist styles, which incorporate Buddhist motifs, esoteric traditions, and satirical science fiction. Pelevin's books have been translated into many languages including Japanese and Chinese. According to a French magazine, Pelevin is among the 1,000 most significant people in the contemporary culture. A 2009 survey voted Pelevin as the most influential intellectual in Russia.

Pelevin is known for not being a part of the literary crowd, rarely appearing in public or giving interviews and preferring to communicate on the internet. When he gives interviews he talks more about the nature of mind rather than his writings. This has given grounds to various rumors. For instance, it has been suggested that the writer does not exist and Pelevin is actually a code name for a group of authors or even a computer. The journalist Alexander Gordon is one of the people who has questioned the very existence of the writer Pelevin. In May 2011 it was reported that Pelevin would personally attend the award ceremony SuperNatsBest, which would have been the writer's first appearance in public. However, he did not come.

Pelevin has permitted all of his texts in Russian predating 2009 (except P5) to be published on the Internet for non-commercial use. Some novels are also available as audio files in Russian.

Literary style[edit]

Pelevin's prose is usually devoid of dialogue between the author and the reader, whether through plot, character development, literary form or narrative language. This corresponds to his philosophy (both stated[where?] and unstated) that, for the most part, it is the reader who infuses the text with meaning. Typical of Pelevin's ironic style, the novel Babylon ("Generation П" or "Generation P" is the Russian title) bears on its cover the inscription, "Any thought that occurs in the process of reading this book is subject to copyright. Unauthorized thinking of it is prohibited".[citation needed]

In a conversation with BOMB Magazine, Pelevin named Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita as an early influence on his reading, saying, "The effect of this book was really fantastic. [...] This book was totally out of the Soviet world." Pelevin avoids, however, listing authors who have specifically influenced his writing, for he believes that "the only real Russian literary tradition is to write good books in a way nobody did before."[3]

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Omon Ra / Омон Ра (1992)
  • The Life of Insects / Жизнь насекомых (1993)
  • Buddha's Little Finger (aka Clay Machine-Gun) / Чапаев и Пустота (Chapayev and Void) (1996)
  • Generation "P" (aka Babylon, Homo Zapiens) / Generation "П" (1999)
  • Numbers (as part of the book DTP(NN) - The Dialectics of the Transition Period (from Nowhere to No Place) / ДПП(NN) - Диалектика Переходного Периода (из Ниоткуда в Никуда)) / Числа (2004)
  • The Sacred Book of the Werewolf / Священная Книга Оборотня (2004)
  • The Helmet of Horror / Шлем ужаса (2005)
  • Empire V / Ампир В (2006)
  • t (2009)
  • S.N.U.F.F. (2011)
  • Batman Apollo (2013)
  • Love for three Zuckerbrins / Любовь к трём Цукербринам (2014)
  • The Watcher / Смотритель (2015)
  • Methusela's lamp, or The most recent battle of chekists with masons / Лампа Мафусаила, или Крайняя битва чекистов с масонами (2016)
  • iPhuck 10 (2017)
  • Secret Views of Mount Fuji / Тайные виды на гору Фудзи (2018)
  • The Art of Light Touches / Искусство лёгких касаний (2019)

Essays, short stories[edit]

  • Hermit and Sixfinger / Затворник и Шестипалый (1990) First published in 1980 in journal "Chemistry and Life" (Химия и Жизнь) - a popular journal on Chemistry.
  • Blue Lantern and Other Stories (1991)
  • Prince of Central Planning / Принц Госплана (1992)
  • The Yellow Arrow / Желтая стрела (1993)
  • 4 by Pelevin' (2001)
  • Macedonian Criticism of French Thought (2003)
  • P5: Farewell songs of the political pygmies of Pindostan / П5: прощальные песни политических пигмеев Пиндостана (2008)
  • Pineapple Water for the Fair Lady / Ананасная вода для прекрасной дамы (2010)


  1. ^ Victor Pelevin on This Is Like
  2. ^ International Writing Program Retrieved 12 June 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Kropywiansky, Leo. "Victor Pelevin". BOMB Magazine. Spring 2002. Retrieved 26 July 2011 In 2011 he was nominated to Nobel prize in literature. .


External links[edit]