Meet The Writer Who Has Played a Great Role in Literature

The Baillie Gifford Prize which has been previously known as The Samuel Johnson Prize is considered as the most prestigious non-fiction prize in the U.K. and is open to writers of any ethnic group. This includes the areas of history, current affairs, politics, sport, science, travel, arts, and the autobiography biography.

Orlando Figes , the prizewinning author of A People’s Tragedy is the only writer to have been shortlisted twice for The Samuel Johnson Prize for the books Natasha's Dance and The Whisperers.
  • Natasha’s Dance: This book has been published in the year 2002 depicts a broad cultural history of Russia from the building of St. Petersburg in the rule of Peter the Great during the first eighteenth century. The title of the book has been obtained from a part in Tolstoy's War and Peace, where Natasha Rostova instinctively dances a peasant dance, it opens up the strains between the folk and European elements of Russian culture, and inspects in what way the saga of the "Russian soul" and the concept of "Russianness" itself have been uttered by Russian artists, writers, philosophers and composers.
Joe Wright, the film director of 2012 film Anna Karenina states that Natasha's Dance has been the inspiration for his film. The film has featured Jude Law and Keira Knightley with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard. Figes is acknowledged as the historical consultant on the movie.

In one of the interview, Orlando has stated that he always wanted to write something optimistic, something lovely and pleasurable that would express his passion for Russia and this is how Natasha’s Dance happened. In this book Figes shows how Russia's sense of uniqueness is expressed in its culture, not only its great music, poetry, paintings and books, but also in its common customs, ideas, beliefs and habits.

In spite of Russia's huge size and ethnic diversity it is this exclusive character that has held collectively the people spread from Asia to Europe and allowed them to endure in the face of their own dreadful history.
  • The Whisperers: This book by Figes for the first time brings to life the personal accounts of the common people and families who survived under Stalin’s dictatorship. This amazing book refabricates the labyrinth in which common Russians found themselves in a world of terror and quietness, where an unknowing wrong turn could either abolish a family or, aberrantly save it. The entire book is based on family archives and interviews.
The Whisperers has been translated into more than twenty languages. Apart from being shortlisted for Samuel Johnson Prize in 2008; the book has also been shortlisted for the Prix M├ędicis, the Ondaatje Prize, and the Premio Roma. In an interview, Orlando Figes has stated that he has wanted to do The Whisperers since the 1980s, when he has been in Moscow as a graduate student and he came to know about some families there.

As he has wanted to give voice to common people, and to those whose experience of the Stalin period has not been replicated in official documents, he has written the book ‘The Whisperers’.
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