Natalja Kljutscharjowa was born in 1981 in Perm (Russia), studied at the College of Education in Jaroslawl and worked later as a TV news editor. Today she is an editor with »Pervoe sentjabrja«, a Moscow newspaper which covers issues related to education. She has been publishing poetry since 2002, and in the same year made it on to the shortlist for the »Début« prize in the Poetry section. In 2006 she published both her poetry collection »Belye pionery« (tr: White Pioneers) and her first novel »Rossija: obščij vagon« (tr: Russia: Fourth-Class Carriage), which has been translated into six languages and will be published in 2010 in Germany under the title »Endstation Russland«. The book is a dazzling encyclopedia of life in contemporary Russia. Nikita, a Petersburg student in his early 20s who is subject to sudden fainting fits, is travelling by train through his home country in search of happy people. He encounters bizarre characters on his journeys through the extremes of modern Russia – a transvestite and an Orthodox priest, a greying Komsomol, and a secret service agent who translates the neo-Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Not everyone manages to stay alive. A mother hangs herself because she can no longer face her hungry children: a pornographic model who writes poems about Chechen freedom fighters overdoses on pills: a labourer who can’t believe that the state has abandoned him when mining in the region is given up remains behind in his village to die alone. But there is also resistance: after their welfare has been cut, a group of indignant pensioners sets off on a protest march to Moscow; Nikita joins the pensioners’ protest and dreams of revolution and reconciliation.
Kljutscharjowa’s début novel is not just a panorama of modern Russian society, it also goes beyond this to reflect on the theme of revolution in 20th century Russian literature. Kljutscharjowa’s language is lyrical: her unusual protagonists are portrayed in simple sketches, free of pathos and yet touching. »I write for those who haven’t yet lost the person inside, who have compassion for the pain of strangers and who can share in others’ joy. I write for those who still feel amazement at the simplest things and who dare to ponder the most complex.«
Natalja Kljutscharjowa received the Juri-Kasakow Prize in 2008 for her story »Odin den’ v raju« (tr: One Day in Paradise). She lives in Abramzewo, near Moscow.