The Illuminer Book Prize announced winners of 2013

November 24, 2013
The Illuminer Book Prize announced winners of 2013 The nominees for this year’s the 'Illuminer' long list included 25 non-fiction works whilst the short-list had one less than usual: the prize jury decided to waver the fourth nomination in the category of the ‘Humanities’ as they considered that there were not enough works of outstanding quality for that category. The jury were reluctant to lower the standards of the prize and hence they shortlisted four books in the ‘Humanities’ and only three books in the ‘Exact and Natural Sciences’.

The prize in the category ‘Exact and Natural Sciences’ was awarded to Dmitry Zhukov for Halt, who is paving the way? The book describes patterns of animal and human behavior with a view to proving that people and animals are subject to the same laws of nature. The author examines the impact of hormones on behavior and also argues that depression has beneficial effects on human intellectual activity.

“Although the publisher [Alpina non-fiction] cut out some of the most extreme passages from the book, in general they dealt with the text very delicately”, Zhukov commented on receiving the award.

The scholar Victor Sonkin won the prize in the category ‘Humanities’ with his book Rome once stood here. The book is subtitled ‘these days walks around the ancient city’. The book can be used as a guide, or can be read as an interesting story about one of the most famous cities in the world.

"In history, although this is not an exact science, the forces of darkness always lose and it is up to us to make it happen in the shortest possible period of time," said Sonkin, and he also admitted that “the book was written out of love and not from a professional point of view.”

The special nomination in the category ‘Biography’ was particularly intriguing, as it was not until the announcement of the winner, that the author was revealed. The book Darwin had been submitted for the Prize under the pseudonym ‘Maxim Chertanov’.

Maxim Chertanov turned out to be a lady - Mariya Kuznetsova – who knelt whilst accepting the award. Boris Mescheryakov, a scholar of Japanese studies and the winner of the ‘Illuminer 2012’, joked whilst announcing the winner, that the winner "of the nomination is crawling to the stage on her knees" in line with Japanese tradition.

Kuznetsova admitted that she was not a particular expert in biology, therefore to avoid factual errors she turned for help to Alexander Markov as he was the winner of the ‘Illuminer 2011’ for his book The Evolution of Man. She also used the occasion to ask the audience for assistance with her new book a biography of Albert Einstein.

The special award "for selflessness in the service of the enlightenment" went to Maxim Krongauz, a prominent linguist and doctor of philology.

Nomination winners will receive grants of 700 thousand Rubles, whilst the finalists will be granted 100 thousand Rubles each. Publishers of the winning books will receive 130 thousand Rubles for marketing and promotion.

Included in the members of the jury for the prize were two of last year winners Alexander Meshcheryakov and the astronomer Vladimir Surdin, as well as the physicist Alexei Semikhatov, the president of the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow Boris Saltykov, the poet Yevgeny Bunimovich, the biologist Ilya Kolmanovskii, and the linguist Vladimir Plungian.

The Illuminer Prize was founded in 2008 by the scientist and businessman Dmitry Zimin in order to increase the readership of popular science books amongst readers.