Monday, August 20, 2007


One of the most important literary projects in Russia today is the creation of LitKarta or The Literary Map of Russia. LitKarta is the brainchild of Dmitry Kuzmin (one of the most productive curators of contemporary Russian literature). Kuzmin’s idea was to create a site that would help Russian authors from different regions be aware of each others’ work. The idea is now a reality, and the project is huge!

Russia is made up of eighty-five regions (some of which are larger than Texas), and each region has its own capital. Because of Russia’s enormous size it is often easier to focus on Moscow and St. Petersburg than to search the provinces for the next Velimir Khlebnikov.

Russia may have officially abandoned the centralized system, but in reality both economically and artistically Moscow and St. Petersburg are pretty much the only game in town. People like Dmitry Kuzmin are attempting to change this –LitKarta is such an attempt. It will level the playing field by putting cities like Samara on par with Moscow. Each region and capital will be allotted its own space, and the authors in each region will be given the same opportunities.

The project is ambitious. The site will contain: authors’ bios, samples of written work and spoken word, a calendar of literary events, a social network of blogs, a list of literary projects, and so forth. If successful LitKarta will be the first of its kind, and may even serve as a model for future projects in other countries. Just imagine such a project in Europe, or the United States.

We will have to see. For now LitKarta is just beginning to blossom. As the project develops it will be interesting to observe how the Russian literary community responds. If successful there is talk of an English version! That way not only Russians, but English speakers will be able to participate in Russia’s vibrant literary scene.