Thursday, September 08, 2005

Russian Children's Literature

There's a very interesting article in The Moscow Times about the state of children's literature in contemporary Russia (by Anna Malpas).

Work by young Russian authors is not being published and foreign works--like Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events--have enormous print runs. Other problems include a literary culture that prefers "known names" (children continuing the series of their parents) and one that is hard for a newcomer to break into (sound familiar?)

The director of the Russian State Children's Library in Moscow, Lidiia Zharkova makes some very interesting observations in the article. First she points out that there is a lack of literature for school-aged children and young adults. Children's literature critic Kseniia Moldavskaia agrees. She also mentions that much new Russian literature is derivative, essentially copied from Western texts. She doesn't mention the nototrious Tanya Groter series by name (this series features a young witch with a scar who attends a boarding school for witches and wizards in Russia, etc.), but she might as well have.

There will be a contest for children's writers called "Treasured Dream" for the best new novel or short story collection for youngsters to help remedy the situation. Eduard Uspensky, the father of the cute little guy in the upper left corner of this post, Cheburashka, will head the jury.

Overall, this is a fascinating article. Well worth the read.