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Boris Pilnyak


Boris Pilnyak was born in 1894 in Mozhaysk, about 70 miles west of Moscow. His father was a veterinarian and his mother a teacher. He studied economics in Moscow and started writing stories but achieved success with publication of his first novel, Голый год (The Naked Year) in 1921. He soon became the dominant figure in Soviet literature, with his ornamental style and use of the ancient Russian folk traditions. However, when Soviet literature veered towards realism, he turned more to stories and short novels. He travelled extensively and even spent some time in the USA, working (unsuccessfully) for MGM. His novel О’КЭЙ (Okay) was about and critical of the USA. Inevitably, he soon became the victim of a campaign of vilification, not least for suggesting in Повесть непогашенной луны (Tale of the Unextinguished Moon) that Stalin might have been implicated in the death of Mikhail Frunze. He was arrested in 1937 and was probably shot that same year, though Soviet sources have claimed that he died in 1941. He left behind three children from three different wives.

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Boris Pilnyak
Boris Pilnyak
Boris Pilnyak (in Russian)
Pilnyak Boris Andreevich (in Russian)


(Works translated into English only)

1921 Голый год (The Naked Year)
1924 Мать сыра-земля (Mother Earth)
1926 Повесть непогашенной луны (Tale of the Unextinguished Moon)
1927 Иван Москва (Ivan Moscow)
1928 Китайская повесть (Chinese Story and Other Tales)
1929 Красное дерево (Mahogany and Other Stories)
1930 Волга впадает в Каспийское море (The Volga Falls to the Caspian Sea)
1933 О’КЭЙ (Okay)
1971 Tales of the Wilderness