May 01, 2013

Note Book

One of Russia’s better known writers, Mikhail Shishkin, scandalized literary and political circles in March when he declined to attend this spring’s Book Expo America (BEA), saying he could not represent a “criminal regime.”

Shishkin, an award winning author whose works have been translated into several languages and who some have called Russia’s greatest living novelist, has lived in Switzerland since the early 1990s. He addressed his letter to the organizers of BEA, the annual summer event that is the largest US book fair. “Ethical considerations,” Shishkin said, forced him to decline the invitation to be part of the Russian delegation.

“By taking part in the book fair as part of the official delegation and taking advantage of the opportunities presented to me as a writer, I am simultaneously taking on the obligations of being a representative of a state whose policy I consider ruinous for the country and of an official system I reject,” he wrote.

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