Enlightener Prize for Non-Fiction Literature

In 2008, the Dynasty Foundation established a new prize for non-fiction literature, the Enlightener Prize.


The Russian publishing industry formerly offered a general reader a wide selection of excellent books on modern scientific discoveries. The authors' names—from Perelman to Likhachev, from Bronshtein to Panchenko—were known to everyone. But then science education was relegated to the backwaters of publishing.

Thanks to recent initiatives, including the Dynasty Foundation Library book-publishing program, translations of the best Western authors writing in the popular science genre have come to the Russian market in recent years.

The Dynasty Foundation has decided to take the next step and support Russian educators who are willing and able to popularize ideas that contribute to the formation of scientific and academic communities.

The goal of the prize is to attract readers to the educational genre, to encourage authors, and to create conditions for widening the market of educational nonfiction literature.

A book nominated for the prize must be written in Russian.
It can be devoted to ideas, theories, interesting facts, and new discoveries in the area of the natural and exact sciences, linguistics, economics, and history. It is important that even the most complex scientific theories be accessible to laymen.

The prize winners will receive a monetary reward in the amount of 720,000 rubles.
The publishers of the winning books will receive monetary certificates worth 130,000 rubles for promoting the books in the market.

Russian readers also receive a great benefit from the prize.
The prize committee purchases a thousand copies of each winning book and five hundred copies of each short-listed book for donation to Russian regional libraries.
Every year, 125 Russian regional libraries outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg receive sets of popular science books. These sets also include books by famous authors writing about science published under the auspices of the Dynasty Foundation.
Annual promotions offering considerable discounts for these books are organized at bookstores for Russian university students.

Since 2009, the prize has included two categories:

  • the humanities category
  • the natural and exact sciences category

Since 2010, the Enlightener Prize has organized public lectures of the laureates and prize finalists in different Russian cities and abroad.

It was decided in 2012 to declare the third Thursday of November Enlightener Day and to conduct the Enlightener ceremony annually on that day.

More about the prize at the Enlightener Prize for Nonfiction Literature web site (in Russian)

The 2008 winner

Marina Svanidze, the 2008 prize laureate

Marina Svanidze is a historian, writer, and the author of Historical Chronicles with Nikolai Svanidze. She works in television, and was a producer of the programs Details and Mirror, which were broadcast on one of the major channels.

It is worth noting that Svanidze writes out all her books with pen on paper before typing them on a computer.

Together with husband Nikolai Svanidze, in 2008 Marina published the book Medvedev, the first biography of Russia's current president.

The third part of Historical Chronicles will be released in 2009.


The 2009 winners were:

  • In the natural and exact sciences category
    The physicist Leonid Ponomarev for the research work that has gone through many editions—POD ZNAKOM KVANTA (Moscow: Fizmatlit, 2007) [English translation: The Quantum Dice, Bristol: Institute of Physics Pub., 1993].

    This book is addressed to people interested in the origin, the ideas, and the main achievements of quantum physics, all of which influenced the 20th century, and also in the role of quantum physics in making modern culture. The book has been translated into 16 languages and is used in many countries as a resource in the history of physics. Leonid Ponomarev—Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences—has for many years been a lecturer in the theoretical physics department of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).

  • In the humanities category
    The art historian Grigory Kozlov for the book about shady deals connected with famous pictures—POKUSHENIE NA ISKUSSTVO: Art-detektiv [The Attempt on Art: Art Detective] (Moscow: Slovo, 2009).

    Grigory Kozlov is a famous art historian, the author of books about the fate of European museums during the Second World War, and a member of the editorial board of “Art News” in New York. He also hosted the series “The Secret History of Art” on the First Channel of Russian television.

In 2010, the Enlightener Prize was awarded to:

  • in the humanities category, the Russian historian-byzantinist Sergey Ivanov for the book A THOUSAND YEARS OF ILLUMINATION
  • in the natural and exact sciences category, the mathematician and linguist Vladimir Uspenskii for a collection of articles APOLOGY OF MATHEMATICS.

The 2011 Enlightener Prize was awarded:

  • in the natural sciences category, to the anthropologist Aleksandr Markov, Doctor of Biological Sciences, the author of the two-volume book THE EVOLUTION OF MAN (Мoscow: Corpus, 2011)
  • in the humanities category, to Vladimir Plungyan, Doctor of Philological Sciences, for the book WHY LANGUAGES ARE SO DIFFERENT: POPULAR LINGUISTICS (Мoscow: АSТ-Press, 2011)

Special awards were given:

  • to the oldest Russian popular science magazine Vokrug Sveta and
  • to the academician Sergey Kapitsa, a famous science popularizer and the permanent host of the TV show The Obvious and the Incredible.

Krasny Yar Laboratory: Scientific Answers to Fantastical Questions, a book written by a group of authors from Krasnoyarsk, was awarded the Prize of the Science Journalist Club.

The 2012 prize was awarded to:

The 2013 prizes were awarded:

The prize winners receive a monetary award of 700,000 rubles, and finalists receive 100,000 each. The publishers of the winning books were awarded monetary certificates worth 130,000 rubles for marketing the books.

In the category “For the best biography,” introduced this year, Maxim Chertanov, the author of the book Darwin in the series “The Life of Remarkable People,” became the winner. The monetary award is 80,000 rubles.

The two finalists Sergey Belyakov (Gumilev, Son of Gumilev) and Boris Tenenbaum (The Great Churchill) received monetary certificates in the amount of 40,000 rubles.

This year the jury established a special prize “For selfless service in the cause of enlightenment,” which was awarded to the linguist Maxim Kronhaus.

The 2014 prize was awarded to:

Asya Kazantseva's book also won the popular vote for the best book on the public web page “Obrazovach”.

All the long-listed and short-listed books have been made freely available.

The special prize “For selfless service in the cause of enlightenment” was awarded to the newspaper Troitskii variant—nauka this year.

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Dmitry Zimin
Dynasty Foundation

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