Oleg Zobern

Oleg Zobern was born in Moscow in 1980. During the Soviet era his parents - the father a publisher, the mother a surgeon - both devout orthodox Christians, clandestinely distributed prohibited orthodox pamphlets. They sent their son to the school of the Patriarch of Moscow. After finishing school at the age 17, Oleg Zobern joined a forest monastery for a year, where he served as a library assistant and psalm reader. In 2004 he won the Russian prize for the best literary debut with a volume of short stories and then went to the Gorky Literature Institute where he finished his studies with a first-class honours degree. He then completed a course at the faculty of missionary practice at Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University.

His first novel "Russian Demons" was published under a pseudonym in 2016 and immediately won the NOS prize. His novel "Autobiography of Iesus Christ", published early in 2018, received rhapsodic reviews and he was nominated for the National Bestseller Award. The book, however, sparked off a fierce discussion in the social networks. Orthodox Christians demanded that the book be banned and that the author be prosecuted. Members of the extreme-orthodox organization "Sorok Sorokov" (responsible, amongst other actions, for threats to the members of Pussy Riot and for campaigns against the movie "Mathilda") bought many copies of the books in order to burn them. Booksellers received threatening letters and on the 1st February extremists stormed a reading at the Chekhov Library in Moscow, tolerated by the police. As a result Zobern was provided with a private bodyguard by his publishers and, as the orthodox extremists obtained his address and set up pickets in front of his home, he felt obliged to change his place of residence in Russia.

Awards: 2018 Shortlist National Bestseller Award
2017 NOS Award
2004 Debut Prize

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