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Viktor Astafyev
File:Viktor Astafyev.jpg
Born (1924-05-01)1 May 1924
Ovsyanka, Krasnoyarsk Krai
Died 29 November 2001(2001-11-29) (aged 77)
Nationality Russian

Viktor Petrovich Astafyev also spelled Astafiev or Astaf'ev (Russian: Ви́ктор Петро́вич Аста́фьев) (1 May 1924 – 29 November 2001), was a Soviet and Russian writer of short stories and novels. j After 1962 he became a professional writer authoring realistic often critical of the Soviet regime novels about the war and the Joseph Stalin era. His criticism of the Soviet times gained him popularity.

the 8th USSR Writers Union Congress in the summer of 1986, Georgian delegates urged the author to apologize publicly for his insult to the Georgian nation; when he refused, they walked out in protest.[1] In October 1993, he signed the Letter of Forty-Two.[2]

In 1999, his novel Jolly Soldier, which portrayed the horrors of the Soviet Army was met with extremely adverse reaction, which may have brought about a heart failure.[3]

David Gillespie summed up his career as follows:

Astafyev has always been a highly individual writer who conforms to no movements or stereotypes.... He has always remained true to himself, and has retained a certain hard-edged integrity. His novel Prokliaty i ubity [The Damned and the Dead] is a gritty, typically uncompromising picture of war, with many naturalistic descriptions in a style the author has developed since the cathartic Pechal'nyi detektiv. Astafyev remains very much a writer who refuses to be easily categorized: he is neither a Village Prose Writer, nor a writer of "war prose", nor a writer who explores the mistakes of the recent Soviet past. At the same time, he is all of these. Capable of surprising and even shocking his reader, Astafev maintains a deep lyrical sense that has produced what Eidel'man called "the best descriptions of nature for decades". More than any other writer living in Russia today (with the possible exception of Solzhenitsyn), he is a writer who examines man as subjected to and moulded by the total Soviet experience.[4]

Honours and awards[]

Monument to Astafyev in Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University is named in his honour.

English translations[]

  • The Horse with the Pink Mane, and Other Siberian Stories, Progress Publishers, 1970.
  • Queen Fish: A Story in Two Parts and Twelve Episodes, Progress Publishers, 1982.
  • To Live Your Life and Other Stories, Raduga Publishers, 1989.


  • The Snow is Melting ("Тают снега" - Tayut snega, 1958)
  • Theft ("Кража" - Krazha, 1966)
  • The Last Tribute ("Последний поклон" - Posledniy poklon, 1968)
  • Sheppard and His Wife ("Пастух и пастушка" - Pastukh i pastushka, 1971)
  • Czar Fish ("Царь-рыба" - Czar ryba, 1975)
  • Sad Detective ("Печальный детектив" - Pechalny detektiv, 1986)
  • The Catching of Gudgeons in Georgia ("Ловля пескарей в Грузии" - Lovlya peskarei v Gruzii, 1986)
  • The Cursed and the Slain ("Прокляты и убиты" - Proklyaty i ubity, 1994)
  • The Will to be Alive ("Так хочется жить" - Tak khochetsya zhit', 1995)
  • The Jolly Soldier ("Веселый солдат" - Veselyi soldat, 1999)


  1. Borovik, Artyom. Waiting for Democracy. Foreign Policy, No. 84 (Autumn, 1991), p. 53.
  2. "Писатели требуют от правительства решительных действий". 5 October 1993. Retrieved 21 August 2011.  (Russian)
  3. "Bound by Nostalgia", UNESCO Courier, November 2001.
  4. David Gillespie, "Viktor Petrovich Astaf'yev (1924-)," in Neil Cornwell and Nicole Christian, eds., Reference Guide to Russian Literature (Taylor & Francis, 1998: ISBN 1-884964-10-9), pp. 123-4.

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