Zoya Boguslavskaya
  • Writer, Playwrite, Critic, Member of the Executive of the Russian PEN Centre
  • Initiator and coordinator of the most prestigeous Art Award "TRIUMPH"
  • Russian leader of the International Woman Writers movement
  • "Facing South"  (Excerpt from recent proze)


      Brief Outline 

      Zoya Boguslavskaya, a writer who, in the opinion of literary critics, belongs to the Trifonov school of prose. She started out as a theater and film critic, gradually progressing to writing her own prose and drama. Her stories and novels, such as Seven Hundred in New Rubles, In Transit, The Defense, The Races, Changes and others ran several editions and were translated into many languages. Her plays belong to the same period of her career. The Contact was put on stage at the Vakhtangov theater in Moscow, while The Promise was in rehearsal at the MKhAT but was eventually banned from production by the Soviet authorities. Later the plays were published in Teatr magazine. Boguslavskaya's Non-Invented Stories is a well-known collection telling of her meetings with some of the most prominent figures of European and American culture, including Mark Chagal, Julio Cortasar, Natalie Sarrot, Arthur Miller and others. 

           Boguslavskaya has initiated and spearheaded a number of highly acclaimed cultural projects such as the initiation and highly successgul running the most prestigeous independent Triumph Art Award itself, and many successful events involving Triumph Award winners, like Christmass Merry-Go-Round concerts, and the Days of Triumph in Togliatti, Paris and Moscow. Much like the the characters of her books, she is involved with many sides of today's life. 

           Zoya Boguslavskays is one of a very few, if not the only writer who met in privacy three First Ladies of America: Jackelin Kennedy, Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan. The latter not only received her in the USA but also visited Boguslavskaya in Peredelkino. 

           At the initiative of the writer, the first Association of Women Writers was founded in Moscow, and later the International Association of Women Writers with headquarters in Paris where she serves as Vice-President. Boguslavskaya is a member of the Russian PEN executive committee. Her recent collections American Women and American Women Plus take a special place in the her life. The books were widely recognized and received a number of Best Publication of the Year awards, and some of the stories from them were used by "Bravo TV" of the US in its series of television shows. 

           Boguslavskaya's latest story, A View to the South: a Study for the Portrait of New Russians, was published by Novi Mir literary journal and provoked tremendous response of both Russian and foreign critics. The story is now being translated into several European languages. Zoya Boguslavskaya has lectured at the Columbia University in the US and at La Sorbonne in France.



    Zoya Boguslavskaya was born in the family of Moscow intellectuals, graduated from Moscow Institute of Dramatic Art (GITIS) and became well-known in the 60s with her articles about theatre and cinema. Soon after studies of Leonid Leonov and Vera Panova, Russian writers, came out. 

    In the beginning of the 70s moves towards writing prose. Her short stories, essays, plays were published in the most prestigious literary journals (Novi Mir, Znamya, Yunost and others). After coming out of such books as "Seven Hundred in New Banknotes", "The Defence", "Obsession", "Kinship" critics started writing about her as the author of contemporary texts using slang, cinema editing and theatre techniques. Although she does not reject traditional narration and drama principles in creating the plot. 

    Zoya Boguslavskaya is the author of two plays: "Contact" staged at Moscow Vakhtangov Theatre, and "A Promise" (the production in Moscow Art Theatre was prohibited). A special part of Zoya Boguslavskaya's creative work is connected with what she calls "Uninvented Stories" which are written in the form of novellas but have a documentary basis - her meetings and talks with major figures in European and American culture - Marc Chagall, Julio Cortazar, Natalie Sarraute, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Heinrich Boll, Hunter Graas and others. 

    Her recent well-known book, "American Women", belongs to the same genre. (The second edition came out the title "American Women - Plus"). The book became a best-seller and won the prizes of "Bravo!" TV-show, and Yunost journal as the best publication of the year. The plot is based on talks with 40 American women of various layers of the society, from the first ladies, Jacqueline Kennedy, Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan, to a woman life-prisoner. 

    Nearly all Zoya Boguslavskaya's prose was translated and published abroad, especially in Europe. In France by Editions Guillimar and Editions Albin Michael "Seven Hundred in New Banknotes", "The Defence", "Kinship", "Passing Through". In Germany (by Aufbau Verlag: "Phisics and Prose", "The Doctor and the Defence Council", "Passing Through". In Spain (by Circule Lectories) "Kinship" (1994).  

    Zoya Boguslavskaya's books were exhibited at many international book fairs and exhibitions. The presentation of her latest book "Ludmila Gutsko's Disappearance, or Change of Landmarks" and "American Women - Plus" (came up two years ago) took place during the last Frankfurt Book Fair'94 in Germany.  

    Zoya Boguslavskaya's biography naturally incorporates her social, public activities, interest for problems of women's movement. She was the first who set up the Association of Women-Writers in the former USSR, then participated in establishing the International Association of Women-Writers in Paris. Zoya Boguslavskaya often takes part in the women's conferences in France, USA, Germany etc. 

    As a guest-writer she visited Columbia University and Catholic Academy in Stuttgart. She is a member of Russian P.E.N. Executive Committee, member of Editorial Board of several literary magazines and journals (Elite, Rabotnitsa, Marina - American-Russian magazine published in USA). 

    Zoya Boguslavskaya worked out the concept of the first in Russia Independent Prize "Triumph" for the Highest Achievements in Art and Literature and the project of the Independent Charity "Triumph-Logovaz" Foundation, which was established in 1991 and now headed by her. "Tiumph" Prizes are awarded annually by the 13 members of Jury consisted of themost prominent people from the Russian Cultural world. Mass media named it the analog of Nobel Prize in Russia. Zoya Boguslavskaya is the Jury Coordinator. 

Facing South
A Portrait Study of "New Russians" 
         In the summer everything turned upside down. Perhaps, it was because the last decade of the century had begun - or, maybe, it was the heat - or, maybe, the ozone holes in the sky? The capital was full of rumors. About the ruin to come, when the hungry and unemployed would start looting shopwindows and stores about the economic chaos from the previous winter that had resulted from all the borders being blocked, about epidemics, destitution, rival gangs fighting one another (using automatic guns and explosives). However, people of Moscow passed most of their time complaining. They scolded the government and the authorities at all levels for devaluing life savings and stock shares, for escalating prices, for forcing them to wait in lines to buy train tickets or to get on a bus, for newspaper and television distortion. The main thing was to make oneself heard and it was impossible. It all fostered an atmosphere of abuse and aggression that no ordinary passer-by could escape. Finallyl, along with street venders and "VIP's" who emerged from nowhere and (as they say) provided themselves with mansions and swimming pools in the outskirts of Moscow and drove foreign-made cars, along with these new Russians who were rumored to have sold all Russian realty to foreigners and Masons, along with these, another type of people rarely referred to as new Russians began to come forth into view. The population of young technologicly sharp and computer literate people were entering the picture and giving voice. They could chatter in strange languages as fluently as in their native tongue. They could easily and tellingly talk to anybody, be it an American senator, a French business exacutive or any local boss. It was as if they alone knew the very truth that everybody was looking for and nobody could find. With the help of these yuppies some novelties appeared in Russia. To ordinary mortal beings they looked bloodcurdling. Kids were no longer content to play with toy soldiers but preferred to enjoy computer games of their own choosing. Mobile handsets appeared to allow any young boy or girl with curlers on her head to call any spot of the world from any supermarket or beauty salon. Our people would not even dare to think about innovations in medicine, long-distance diagnoses, tomography, ultra sound and surgeries with no cuts.  
         The facades on Moscow's streets and the interier designs of buildings were rapidly changing (for the best?) On Tverskaya, for example, foreign shops and five-star hotels with porters standing watch at the entrances were spreading like wildfire. Next to impossible to comprehend were the new lavish restaurants, casinos and foreign travel agencies smuggled in from the West. (Where only did the money come from?) Still the main thing people were unaccustomed to was the predominance of imported food products that could be purchased in any store: fruit and vegetables, fish of various kinds, herbs, spices and flavorings that Russian people had never known. Young Muscovites were dreaming of designer threads, Estee Lauder and Nina Ricci perfume. Outfitted in skirts merely covering their bellybuttons they were nagging about garbage dumps, about kids bumming in the streets and at the railway stations, about the cruel tyranny of ruthless criminals wringing money. With nightfall both men and women were afraid of violence, of entrances to apartment house and elevators. No hope of protection from the authorities was left. And yet, for some unknown reason the deadly life in the capital that brought horrible news also transmitted some energy. It was an energy generated, perhaps, by the sharp perception of the existence, by living in the here and now, no future in sight, as if everyone were watching a rough cut of an action movie in which they were the actors. 
         In that summer three years ago Muscovites did not understand yet where it was all heading. Many were hoping THEY would go on with their PERESTROIKA for a year or two, thrashing each other and everything would return to where it started.  
         It has not, though. 

Russian PEN centre