Academician of The Russian Academy of Arts. Born on March 6, 1929.
USSR State Prize Laureate, Sakharov Prize for Writer’s Civic Courage Laureate, Pushkin Prize of A. Toepfer Foundation Laureate, State Prize of the Russian Federation Laureate, Triumph Prize Laureate, D. Gulia Prize for Achievements in Literature (Abkhazia). Honorable Doctor of Norwich University (USA), Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities Member and Laureate (Germany). Companion of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland (2nd, 3rd and 4th class), Order of Honor and Glory (Abkhazia, 1st class), «Masterpieces of Russian Literature of XX Century» Memorable Medal of Russian Academy of Sciences.
A well-known saying «The silence is gold, the word is silver» turned into a real silver coin that was produced by the State Bank of Abkhazian Republic at the 80th Fazil Iskander’s birthday. The description says: «There is the F.A. Iskander’s profile on the right side and a seaside with mountains and a grapevine twined around a tree on the left.» Well, it’s not a surprise. He was born in Sukhumi and raised in Chegem and he is still his native land’s most famous and beloved son.
There are many intellectuals who were born in big cities but remained narrow-minded. Fazil Iskander is their direct opposite. His village in the mountains of Abkhazia and small patio in Sukhumi look like a multidimensional unique civilization. His heroes are vivid and their lives and deeds are deeply described. His novel Sandro of Chegem tells about patriarchal Abkhazia. But this book is widely known in Russia, America and Japan. Readers see real details of true life. And there is a place for wiliness, guile and cheat. Sandro is about the modern life and the childhood of humanity,» — Fazil explains. «The childhood forms a man. Many children’s impressions become part of a mature man’s character. In this regard the childhood is the basis for an adult. My mission was to inspire my readers by revealing the poetry of the childhood. Bad things also happen but I almost ignore them. My books should be inspiring and lively.»
Fazil Iskander is very serious about his native land. During his trip to Abkhazia the writer had a conversation with a high Russian official and quickly stated the history of Russian-Abkhazian relations in chronological order. «In terms of ethics I am Abkhazian, — Fazil says. — Ethics explains what’s wrong and what’s right. It says a lot about relations between the young and the old. These gradations are very strong in Abkhazian society, especially at the dining table. It all requires relations between guests and hosts. So I’m measurably patriarchal. The most important feature of patriarchal society with all its prejudice and even some cruelty is your responsibility for your behavior.»
However the writer finally considers himself Russian as he writes books in this language. At first he tried his force in poetry. But after reading Isaak Babel’s Red Cavalry he realized that poetry could also exist in the form of prose. He broke the ground with his satirical story The Goatibex Constellation. He returned to satire many times during his career. A philosophical tale Rabbits and Boa Constrictors became a collection of famous quotes during Perestroika. «Humor repairs mistakes in our life,» — Fazil used to say.
The main character in his books is the life itself. «I always need a first push. And the reality can afford it. I just need to continue the story. I make a mountain out of a molehill, but it should be a real molehill. I’m not one of those who can’t live a day without writing a line. A have some long periods of passivity. I think it’s the time for collecting new impressions. And then the right moment comes. Time to take a pen again. So I take a place behind my typewriter and spend 8-12 hours at work. Sometimes more.»
Iskander has to feel the pressure, a border, a limit that should be overcome. In the past the writer had a clear image of enemy in the shape of ideology and censorship. That was the enemy of free creativity and he had to get overit and say the truth. And the talented ones did so. They passed the borders or destroyed them. Later he created his own language of hints and metaphors, which was easily understood by readers. Now the freedom is achieved. But writers have to see new forms of oppression and develop new methods of struggle.
«Every word of Iskander is true, merry and powerful. He gives readers the feeling of strong support. They understand that the world is still at its place and our efforts are still mean something.» — poet Dmitry Bykov states in a foreword to a recently released Fazil Islander’s collection of works. And the world will definitely hear this word again.