Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (EFE).- The Russian writer Liudmila Ulitskaya, very critical of the policies of President Vladimir Putin, whom she considers a “hooligan”, believes that the Third World War “has already started” and said she had certainty of that February 24, when the invasion of Ukraine began.

Ulítskaya (Dablekánovo, 1943), one of the most ambitious writers of contemporary Russian literature, receives this evening in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria the Formentor Prize for Letters for the “powerful narrative breath” of her literature, a prize that represents for her “a shot of vitamins” in these moments of “slowdown” for the world.

In a meeting with journalists, the writer, who went into exile in Berlin when the invasion of Ukraine began after her son told them they had to leave, said Putin was capable of ‘pressing the “nuclear button” but points out that “luckily” there is a chain of people between the Russian president and the button who confides that “maybe they will stop his feet”.

He sees the scenes of Russians fleeing the partial mobilization decreed by Putin as something very painful: “it reminds me a lot of my family, my grandparents and my mother, who left Moscow at the start of the Second World War and this tremendous feeling of global and even universal catastrophe”.

For Oulitskaïa, the Russian president is a character “with little talent, little grace, little humanity”: “His way of acting, of being, of dealing with others is the same as that used by a ‘ hooligan’, a hooligan on a street hovel at night’.

But he doesn’t believe the protests that have taken place against him will have an effect, as the secret police are “very much in power and in society, which they have at their throats”.

The writer Liudmila Ulítskaya, one of the most outstanding authors of contemporary Russian literature and critic of the politics of Vladimir Putin, during an interview with Efe before receiving the Formentor Prize for Letters 2022. EFE / Quique Curbelo

He underlines the parallel between the 20s of the 20th century when after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia “huge masses of intellectuals and artists” were expelled and what is happening today, which he would like to capture in a literary work.

The writer expressed his great sadness that a Ukrainian woman did not want to participate in the meeting of translators held in Las Palmas as part of the Literary Conversations of Formentor because the prize was awarded to her , a Russian: “Politics is part of culture and not the other way around.”

And he hoped that “understanding who is who will overcome these feelings and change the situation”.

Author of fifteen novels, children’s stories and plays translated into more than 15 countries and with more than 4,500,000 readers, she does not rule out that her works are banned in Russia, but she says she does not to be the least bit worried since in his youth all the books he read were “and the more they were banned, the more attractive they became”.

Her name has sounded several times as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but she is absolutely convinced that she will not receive it. “Besides, I’ve been convinced for a long time that second place is much better than first,” he laughs.

“Don Quixote” was the first book for adults she read, at only 6 years old, an academic edition of her grandmother: “I don’t know what she understood but I lived with this book for a year”, recalls the writer. , who also recalls how Latin American literature caused a “huge explosion” in Russia in the 70s and 80s, such that it led to the discovery of the letters of the world through translations from Spanish .

Liudmila Ulitskaya also admits to having a “very difficult” relationship with the concept of feminism and explains that she has never had a problem because of her gender: “I almost always succeeded and when I did not get this I wanted, I never thought it was because I was a woman,” she says.

She also comes from a family of “strong and powerful” women, like her grandmother, who raised the family alone during the 17 years her grandfather spent in the concentration camps: “Courageous women, strong, independent that I had in front of my eyes and that influenced me a lot. The quality of Russian women exceeds that of Russian men,” he says.

By Carmen Naranjo

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