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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New 'Black Humor' in Literature

Russian children's literature is becoming increasingly influenced by Western authors and is developing a darker tone, said children's literature experts at the International Festival of the Children's Book.


"What's popular now in children's literature is the black humor of such authors as Grigory Ostyor and Eduard Uspensky, who write on topics of the day," said Georgy Yudin, an author and vice president of the Russian Board on Children's Books.


Books by Uspensky, whose tales often touch on current social problems like poverty and hunger, and Ostyor, who uses black humor to illustrate his lessons on manners and morality, are among the books featured at the festival, which opened Monday at the House of the Children's Book.


Works by such classic Soviet and Russian authors as Kornei Chukovsky and Samuel Marshak -- who used gentle, whimsical characters in their stories and poetry -- are still selling well, literature experts said. But they blamed the influx of Western television shows, cartoons, comic books and computer games for introducing a more violent strain into Russian children's literature.


"If kids read only such books, they will grow into international types and lose their Russian character," Yudin said.


The exhibition also featured displays of works by Israeli writer Uri Orlev and German illustrator Klaus Ensikat, which have received special awards from the Germany-based International Board on Books for Young People.


Sergei Ivanov, the Moscow writer whose romantic story "Winter Girl," a tale about a young girl who can fly, was included in the board's honor list, accepted an award certificate at the exhibition's opening ceremony. "The certificate gives a writer a serious chance to be noticed in the West," said Roman Sef, president of the Children's Writers Association.


The exhibition can be seen at 13 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa weekdays through March 28.