Alexander Chudakov won the Russian Booker of the Decade with A Gloom is Cast Upon the Ancient Steps, a novel that was short-listed for the 2001 Russian Booker Prize. Chudakov was known for writing more than 200 articles on classical Russian authors of the 19th century and the history of Russian philology. A Gloom is Cast Upon the Ancient Steps—also known as Haze Sets Upon the Old Steps—was his only novel, and was published in 2000. Set in a fictional town populated by political exiles in Northern Kazakhstan, it describes life under Stalinist Russia and celebrates the human spirit under difficult circumstances. At the award ceremony held at Moscow’s Golden Ring Hotel, his widow, Marietta Chudakova—a literary historian and social critic—accepted both the award and prize money of 600,000 rubles (about $20,000).
The Student Booker prize, launched in 2010, went to Tatyana Tolstaya (from the Tolstoy family) for dystopian novel The Slynx (or Kys in Russian). For this prize, student representatives from several Russian universities nominate their short-list, and it gives a clear indication of the reading preference of young adults in Russia.
The usual Russian Booker Prize will be back next year now that a new sponsor (in the form of Russian Telecom Equipment Company) has been found. The decision to hold the Russian Booker of the Decade—by looking through past winners and finalists from 2001 to 2010—was prompted mainly by the lack of funds to accept nominations and start the procedures for the annual prize. In recent weeks, the organizing committee has also changed its rules to allow for a posthumous award.