Yury Iosifovich Koval

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Yury Iosifovich Koval
Born (1938-02-09)February 9, 1938
Moscow, Soviet Union
Died August 2, 1995(1995-08-02) (aged 57)
Moscow, Russia
Occupation Writer, screenwriter, poet, artist
Genre Children's literature

Yury Iosifovich Koval (Russian: Юрий Иосифович Коваль, February 9, 1938, Moscow – August 2, 1995, Moscow) was a Russian author, artist, and screenplay writer.[1]


Yury Koval was born in Moscow in 1938. Both of his parents came from peasant families. His Ukrainian father Iosif Yakovlevich Koval was a criminal investigator, while his mother Olga Dmitrievna Kolybina was a psychiatrist of Russian origin.[2] In 1955 Yuri begun his studies at the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute, and in 1960, he graduated and started working as a drawing teacher in the countryside in the Republic of Tatarstan. After a year, he returned to Moscow, working first as a schoolteacher and subsequently as an editor in the Detskaya Literatura magazine. In 1966, he became a freelance journalist and writer.[3]

Koval published sporadically since he was a student, and in 1967 and 1969 he published two books of verses for children, however, he was first noticed in 1968, when he published Aly, a short story of a dog. He subsequently decided to change topic frequently. He spent considerable periods of time in the north of European Russia, in particular, in Vologda Oblast. In Arkhangelsk, Yury Koval met Boris Shergin, a Russian Pomor writer, and became interested in Russian folklore. Later, he invested a lot of time promoting literary works of Shergin and Stepan Pisakhov, and even wrote a screenplay for animated films The Magic Ring (Russian: Волшебное кольцо) and Laughter and Grief by the White Sea, based on Shergin's fairy tales.[3]

In the 1970s, Koval wrote several short stories and novels for children. The Little Silver Fox (1975) shows the story of an Arctic fox who escaped from a fur farm and wanted to get to the North Pole. In 1984, he published The lightest boat in the world, and Suyer-Vyyer was published in 1996 posthumously. For Suyer-Vyyer, Koval received the Strannik Award, which is given for science fiction books.[4] Koval's books were translated to all major European languages, as well as to Chinese and Japanese.[3][5]

In addition to his writing and screenwriting work, Yuri was also a professional sculptor, artist, icon painter, enameller and woodcarver.[6][7] He mastered a wide range of techniques, mostly traditional national Russian styles. He also wrote songs and played guitar.

Koval died in 1995 at the age of 57 after a serious heart attack. He was buried in the family tomb at the Lianozovskoe Cemetery.[8] He was survived by his second wife Natalia Alexandrovna Koval (nee Degtyar), his children (Yulia from the first marriage and Alexei from the second marriage) and his elder brother Boris.[2] Koval belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church.[6]

Literary works[edit]

Koval is the author of several novels, novellas and collections of short stories and fairy-tales, both for children and adults. He has also written poems and songs. His major works in prose include:

  • Алый (Aly, titled after the proper name of a dog, 1968), about a border guard dog;
  • Приключения Васи Куролесова (The Adventures of Vasya Kurolesov, 1971), a humorous detective story;
  • Недопёсок (Young Polar Fox, 1975), about the adventures of an Arctic fox;
  • Пять похищенных монахов (Five Abducted Monks, 1977), a humorous detective story;
  • От Красных Ворот (Starting from Red Gate, titled after a Moscow toponym, 1984);
  • Самая лёгкая лодка в мире (The Lightest Boat in the World, 1984), the first Koval's major work addressed to adult audience;
  • Полынные сказки (Wormwood Tales, 1987);
  • Промах гражданина Лошакова (Citizen Loshakov's Failure, 1990), a humorous detective story;
  • Шамайка (Shamayka, titled after the name of a cat, 1990), about a stray cat (adaptation of Ernest Thompson Seton's story, The Slum Cat);
  • Суер-Выер (Suyer-Vyyer, 1998), a fantastic novel about a sea voyage of Captain Suyer-Vyyer striving to find the Island of Verity.

He translated into Russian various children's writers and poets, including Rainis, Imants Ziedonis, Eduardas Mieželaitis, Spiridon Vangheli, Akhmedkhan Abu-Bakar, Michio Mado, Yoko Sano, etc.

English editions[edit]

  • Yuri Koval. A Pig in a Poke. London: Abelard-Schuman, 1975. — Illustrated by Janosch.[9] ISBN 0200723324 (Translation of Priklyucheniya Vasi Kurolesova, 1971)
  • Yuri Koval. A purple bird / Translated by Fainna Solasko. Moscow: Raduga, 1983.[10] 2nd printing, 1989.[11] — Illustrated by Nikolay Ustinov. (Translation of 14 stories from the collection Pozdnim vecherom ranney vesnoy, 1988)

Cinema and animation[edit]

Some of Koval's works were made into feature films:

  • Border dog Alyi (1979)
  • Nedopesok Napoleon III (1979)[12] (based on Nedopesok)
  • Pyat pokhishchennykh monakhov (1991)[13] (based on the eponymous novel)
  • Yavlenie prirody (2010)[14] (based on various short stories)

He wrote the screenplays for several short animation films, and many animation films are based on his works, including:

  • Priklyucheniya Vasi Kurolesova (1981)[15]
  • Tigryonok na podsolnukhe (1981)[16]
  • Welcome (1986)
  • Sunduk (1986)
  • Laughter and Grief by the White Sea (1988)
  • Yevstifeyka-volk (2001)
  • Polynnaya skazka v tri blina dlinoy (2003)
  • Pro barana i kozla (2004)[17]
  • Pro kozla i baraba (2005)
  • Glupaya... (2008)
  • Krugly god (2010)
  • Shatalo (2010)

Koval also appeared in small supporting roles in two movies (in both cases he sings his songs playing a guitar):

  • Ulitsa Nyutona, dom 1 (1963)[18]
  • Marka strany Gondelupy (1978)[19]


  1. ^ Коваль Юрий Иосифович (in Russian). Аниматор.ру. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Yuri Koval Island – Official Website (in Russian)
  3. ^ a b c Биография (in Russian). Литературный клуб. Серия великие российские и зарубежные писател. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  4. ^ Странник-96 (in Russian). Оргкомитет конгресса "Странник". Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Yuri Koval". Guarant-InfoCentre. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Yuri Koval. Monologue documentary, January 20, 1991
  7. ^ Yuri Koval: Art, Sculpture, Enamel by Tatiana Bek in Znamya, 2003, № 8. (in Russian)
  8. ^ Moscow Tombs
  9. ^ http://www.worldcat.org/title/pig-in-a-poke/oclc/014755022
  10. ^ http://www.worldcat.org/title/purple-bird/oclc/11110494
  11. ^ http://www.worldcat.org/title/purple-bird/oclc/261615288
  12. ^ Nedopesok Napoleon III on IMDb
  13. ^ Pyat pokhishchennykh monakhov on IMDb
  14. ^ Yavlenie prirody on IMDb
  15. ^ Priklyucheniya Vasi Kurolesova on IMDb
  16. ^ Tigryonok na podsolnukhe on IMDb
  17. ^ Pro barana i kozla on IMDb
  18. ^ Ulitsa Nyutona, dom 1 on IMDb
  19. ^ Marka strany Gondelupy on IMDb

External links[edit]