Mikhail Pavlovich Shishkin

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Mikhail Pavlovich Shishkin
Photo from the 2006 Big Book Prize.
Born (1961-01-18) January 18, 1961 (age 61)
Moscow, Russia
Alma mater Moscow State Pedagogical Institute
Genre Fiction, non-fiction

Mikhail Pavlovich Shishkin (Russian: Михаил Павлович Шишкин, born 18 January 1961) is a Russian writer.


Mikhail Shishkin was born in 1961 in Moscow.

Shishkin studied English and German at Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. After graduation he worked as a street sweeper, road worker, journalist, school teacher, and translator. He debuted as a writer in 1993, when his short story "Calligraphy Lesson" was published in Znamya magazine. Since 1995 he has lived in Zurich, Switzerland.[1][2] He averages one book every five years.[3]

Shishkin's books have been translated into more than ten languages.[4] His prose is universally praised for style, e.g., "Shishkin's language is wonderfully lucid and concise. Without sounding archaic, it reaches over the heads of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (whose relationship with the Russian language was often uneasy) to the tradition of Pushkin." He deals with universal themes like death, resurrection, and love.[5] Shishkin has been compared to numerous great writers, including Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce,[6] while he admits to being influenced by Chekhov along with Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Bunin, saying "Bunin taught me not to compromise, and to go on believing in myself. Chekhov passed on his sense of humanity – that there can’t be any wholly negative characters in your text. And from Tolstoy I learned not to be afraid of being naïve."[6]

Awards and honors



  • "Calligraphy Lesson", short story (1993)
  • One Night Befalls Us All / Всех ожидает одна ночь, novel (1993)
  • Blind Musician / Слепой музыкант, novella (1994)
  • The Taking of Izmail / Взятие Измаила, novel (1999)
  • Saved language, short story (2001)
  • Maidenhair / Венерин Волос, novel (2005)
  • Pismovnik ("Letter Book") / Письмовник, novel (2010)


  • Russian Switzerland / Русская Швейцария literary and historical guidebook (2000)
  • Montreux-Missolunghi-Astapovo, in the Steps of Byron and Tolstoy / Montreux-Missolunghi-Astapowo, Auf den Spuren von Byron und Tolstoj (2002), an essay collection, in German (2002) - Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger - 2005


  1. Big Book Prize web-site
  2. OZON online book store
  3. Mikhail Shishkin: There Is No Need to Write about Russia and Exotic Russian Problems
  4. OKNO. Literary Agency. "Maiden'S Hair (VENERIN VOLOS)" (PDF). OKNO. Literary Agency. Retrieved 2011-01-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Times Literary Supplement, 8.10.2010. By V. Sonkin
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Russia’s best-kept literary secret", Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines, Jan 9, 2012.
  7. Chad W. Post (April 10, 2013). "2013 Best Translated Book Award: The Fiction Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 11, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links