“Ticket to the stars”, “The Island of Crimea”, “The Moscow Saga”, known in English as “Generations of Winter”, and “Volteryantsy I Volteryanki” (“Volterians”) – all these novels were written by the famous Russian writer Vasily Aksyonov without whom it is impossible to imagine the Russian literature of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. August 20th marks his 80th birth anniversary.
A doctor by profession, anti-Soviet in his spirit and the most prominent innovator of the Russian prose – this is what Russian critics said about him at that time. His first publications that appeared in 1960 added the spirit of freedom to Soviet literature.
Aksyonov’s characters were emancipated people full of self-respect, individuals in the first place, and only then members of the society. All these qualities were highly praised by the people of his age because Aksyonov was the unquestionable idol of his generation. Writer Alexander Ilichevsky says that even decades after, the young people of today continue to admire him.
"Of course, Vasily Aksyonov was an idol of his epoch and the symbol of the spirit of freedom of the 60s, Ilichevsky says, stressing that a powerful drive is strongly felt in the prose of young Aksyonov. The writer succeeded in expressing the non-stop rhythm of life. Drive was Aksyonov’s brand."
Aksyonov had a taste for life and knew very well how to enjoy it. A jazzman, a playboy and a womanizer – he remained as such always and everywhere. In Russia Aksyonov was known as a Westerner but after he moved to the USA where he lived for 10 years he used to say that he did not feel American. Despite that, he felt comfortable in the American university community, and crowds of students came to his lectures. Aksyonov could not complain that the English translations of his works were not published in America.