Lyudmila Ulitskaya

Lyudmila Evgenyevna Ulitskaya (Russian: Людмила Евгеньевна Улицкая, born February 21, 1943) is an internationally acclaimed modern Russian novelist and short-story writer who, in 2014, was awarded the prestigious Austrian State Prize for European Literature for her oeuvre. In 2006 she published Daniel Stein, Interpreter (Даниэль Штайн, переводчик), a novel dealing with the Holocaust and the need for reconciliation between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Ulitskaya herself belongs to a group of people formed by the realities of the former Soviet Union, who see themselves ethnically and culturally as Jews, while having adopted Christianity as their religion.[1]

Lyudmila Ulitskaya
Lyudmila Ulitskaya 4.jpg
Born (1943-02-21) February 21, 1943 (age 77)
Davlekanovo, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Alma materMoscow State University
GenreFiction, script writing
Literary movementAestheticism
Notable worksSonechka
The Funeral Party
Medea and Her Children
Daniel Stein, Interpreter


Ulitskaya was born in the town of Davlekanovo in Bashkiria and grew up in Moscow where she received a degree in genetics from the Moscow State University. Having worked in the field of genetics and biochemistry, Ulitskaya began her literary career by joining the Jewish drama theatre as a literary consultant. Her first published short fiction appeared in 1990.[2] Today, Lyudmila Ulitskaya divides her time between Moscow and Israel.[3]



In her fiction, Ulitskaya seemingly describes and observes her characters at an equal distance from each one. Rather than going in for character development or delving into the tortured workings of her characters’ psyches otherwise perceived as the hallmark of Russian writing, Ulitskaya favors capsule descriptions, though she acknowledges that her characters are tortured. Generally speaking, she makes little use of dialogue. Masha Gessen, in her tribute article in The New Yorker in October 2014, finds that Ulitskaya's writing makes for compelling, addictive reading. Gessen reports that she was driven entirely by the desire to learn what happens next.[2]


Among her interlinked themes are: the need for religious and ethnic tolerance; the problem of the intelligentsia in Soviet culture; how women shape new gender roles in society; and everyday life as a literary subject.

Other activityEdit

Lyudmila Ulitskaya on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow in February 2012

Ulitskaya authored two movie scripts produced in the early 1990s: The Liberty Sisters (Сестрички Либерти, 1990) and A Woman for All (Женщина для всех, 1991). She regularly publishes commentary on social issues and is actively involved in philanthropic projects increasing access to literature. In March 2014 Ulitskaya was among the key speakers at the Moscow Anti-War demonstration.


Ulitskaya's first novella, Sonechka (Сонечка), published in Novy Mir in 1992, almost immediately became extremely popular, and was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Award. Her works have been translated into several languages including English, and received several international and Russian literary awards, including the Russian Booker for The Kukotsky Enigma[4] (Казус Кукоцкого; 2001). Ulitskaya was the first woman to receive this distinguished prize.

In Germany her novels have been added to bestseller lists thanks to the featuring of her works on a television program hosted by literary critic Elke Heidenreich. Today her writing is much admired by the general reading public and critics in Russia and many other countries.[citation needed]


Lyudmila Ulitskaya as guest of honour at the 2009 16th International Book Festival, Millenáris, Budapest


  • Sonechka (Сонечка, 1995)
  • Medea and Her Children (Медея и ее дети, 1996) ISBN 978-0805211443
  • The Funeral Party (Веселые похороны, 1997) ISBN 978-0805211320
  • The Kukotsky Enigma (Казус Кукоцкого, 2001)
  • Women's Lies (Russian title 'Through Line', Сквозная линия, 2003)
  • Sincerely Yours, Shurik (Искренне Ваш Шурик, 2003)
  • The People of Our Tsar (Люди нашего царя, Moscow, 2005)
  • Daniel Stein, Interpreter (Даниэль Штайн, переводчик, Moscow, 2006)
  • Russian Jam and Other Plays (Русское варенье и другое, Moscow, 2008)
  • The Big Green Tent (зеленый шатер, 2010) ISBN 978-1250097446
  • Jacob's Ladder (Лестница Якова, 2015)

Short fictionEdit

  • Girls (Девочки, 2002)
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
The fugitive 2014 Ulitskaya, Lyudmila (May 12, 2014). Translated by Bela Shayevich. "The fugitive". The New Yorker. 90 (12): 64–71.

Online textEdit


  1. ^ Sasha Senderovich, Translations, book review in Tablet Magazine, 29 June 2011
  2. ^ a b Masha Gessen, The Weight of Words. One of Russia’s most famous writers confronts the state, in: The New Yorker, 6 October 2014
  3. ^ Andrey Kurkov in: "Das kann ein bisschen mehr Anarchie mitbringen". Ukraine im Gespräch, part 4: Andrej Kurkow im Gespräch mit Katja Petrowskaja, Essay und Diskurs, Deutschlandfunk, 28 December 2014, German
  4. ^ [1], Northwestern University Press catalog.
  5. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.

External linksEdit