Poets and Czars: From Pushkin to Putin, the Sad Tale of Democracy in Russia
Mikhail Shishkin is one of the most prominent contemporary Russian writers. He is the only Russian writer who have received all three of Russia’s most prestigious literary awards: the Russian Booker Prize (2000), the National Bestseller Prize (2006), and the Big Book Prize (2006, 2011). His texts are translated in thirty five languages. The author of four novels, several collected volumes of short stories and essays, he is also a fearless critic of Putin’s regime and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. His writing is richly textured and innovative and explores universal themes, such as love and death, pain and happiness, war and peace.
During his talk, Mikhail Shishkin will speak about the political responsibilities of intellectuals in Russia and how one can live under the dictatorship, but still preserve human dignity. Throughout Russia’s history, czars, general secretaries, and presidents bowed to the poets, hoping to derive from them spiritual legitimacy. What is the future of civil society and free speech in the present-day Russia? Does it have a potential to counterweight to the totalitarian mentality of the state? These and other questions will be addressed in Mikhail Shishkin’s talk.