Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (EFE).- Russian writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, who is very critical of the policies of President Vladimir Putin, whom she considers a “hooligan”, believes that the third world war “has already started” and says that its certainty in the past 24 February, when the invasion of Ukraine began.

Ulítskaja (Dablekanovo, 1943), one of the most far-reaching writers of contemporary Russian literature, will tonight receive the Formentor Book Prize in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for the “powerful narrative breath” of her literature. This award represents him. “vitamin injection” for the world in these moments of “decline”.

In a meeting with journalists, the writer, who went into exile in Berlin when the invasion of Ukraine began after his son told them they had to leave, said Putin was capable of pushing the “nuclear button” but pointed out that “by luck” the Russian president and the button sometimes there is a chain of people who believe that “maybe they will stop his legs”.

He sees the scenes of Russians fleeing the partial mobilization announced by Putin as something very painful: “it makes me think a lot about my family, my grandparents and my mother, who left Moscow at the beginning of World War II and this huge event. a sensation of global and even universal catastrophe’.

For Ulitskaya, the Russian president is a character with few talents, little grace, little humanity: “His way of acting, being and interacting with others is the same as that used by a “hooligan”, a thug. a night street slum”.

But he doesn’t think the protests against him will have any effect because the secret police are “very much in power and in the society they have by the throat”.

Writer Liudmila Ulítskaja, one of the most far-reaching authors in modern Russian literature and a critic of Vladimir Putin’s policies, in an interview with Efe before receiving the 2022 Formentor Prize for Letters. EFE/Quique Curbelo

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

The writer has expressed his great sadness that one Ukrainian did not want to participate in the meeting of translators in Las Palmas within the framework of Formentor Literary Conversations, because the award was given to him, a Russian woman: “Politics is part of culture and not the other way around.”

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

The author of fifteen novels, children’s stories and plays, which have been translated into more than 15 countries and have more than 4,500,000 readers, does not rule out that his works may be banned in Russia, but he says that he is not the least bit worried because in his youth all books, which he read, “and the more forbidden they were, the more attractive” they became.

His name has been mentioned several times as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he is absolutely convinced that he will not get it. “Besides, I have long been convinced that the second place is much better than the first,” he laughs.

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

Liudmila Ulitskaya also admits that she has a “very difficult” relationship with the concept of feminism and explains that she has never had any problems because of sex: “I have almost always succeeded, and if I didn’t get what I wanted, I never thought about it. it was because I was a woman”, she points out.

She also comes from a family of “strong and powerful” women, like her grandmother, who raised the family on her own during the 17 years her grandfather was in a concentration camp: “Brave, strong, independent women who have come before me and that has influenced me a lot. The quality of Russian women exceeds that of Russian men,” he says. EFE

By Carmen Naranjo

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