Mikhail Shishkin made his literary debut in 1993 and swiftly went on to win acclaim as one of the greatest living contemporary Russian writers. He is the first author to win all three of the major Russian literary prizes- the Russian Booker, the Big Book Award, and the National Bestseller Award- while his work has been translated into twenty five languages. In fall 2012, Open Letter will publish his novel Maidenhair, in translation by Marian Schwartz; while in 2013 the British house Quercus will publish Letter-Book in translation by Andrew Bromfield. In anticipation of his appearance at this year’s BEA, regular Publishing Perspectives contributor Daniel Kalder spoke to him about literature, exile and creating a new language.
You moved to Switzerland in 1995, when you were already in your mid thirties. Were you concerned that distance and detachment from Russia would alienate you from the language and subject matter? How did that “exile” affect you as a writer?