Eugene Vodolazkin

Eugene Vodolazkin

The Russian multi award-winning novelist is translated into English for the first time.

Eugene Vodolazkin was born in Kiev and has worked in the department of Old Russian Literature at Pushkin House since 1990. He is an expert in medieval Russian history and folklore and this expertise is used to great effect in his first novel to be translated into English, Laurus.

Set at the end of the medieval period, in 15th century Russia, Laurus tells the story of a young healer in a time of plague and pestilence. He finds himself overcome with grief and guilt when he fails to save the one he holds closest to his heart. Leaving behind his village, his possessions and his name, he sets out on a quest for redemption, penniless and alone. But this is no ordinary journey: wandering across plague-ridden Europe, offering his healing powers to all in need, he travels through ages and countries, encountering a rich tapestry of wayfarers along the way. Accosted by highwaymen, lynched in Yugoslavia and washed overboard at sea, he eventually reaches Jerusalem, only to find his greatest challenge is yet to come.

The book’s English translator, Lisa C Hayden, has been writing and editing professionally for over 12 years, and began learning Russian in 1983. She has been a Russian Language lecturer at the University of Southern Maine, a Russian teacher and tutor, and has translated several Russian texts into English, including short stories and a script.

Winner of two of the biggest literary prizes in Russia, Laurus is a remarkably rich novel about the eternal themes of love, loss, self-sacrifice and faith, from one of the country’s most experimental and critically acclaimed novelists.

Read a New Yorker article about Laurus and medieval Russia.