Vasily Pavlovich Aksyonov (Russian: Василий Павлович Аксёнов) is a Russian novelist who began his career in the Soviet era. He is known in the West as the author of The Burn (Russian: "Ожог" - Ozhog, 1975) and the critically acclaimed Generations of Winter (Russian: "Московская сага", Moskovskaya saga, 1992), a family saga depicting three generations of the Gradov family in 1925–1953.
Vasily Aksyonov was born to Pavel Aksyonov and Yevgenia Ginzburg (Eugenia) in Kazan, USSR on August 20, 1932. His mother was a successful journalist and educator and his father Pavel Aksyonov had a high position in the administration of Kazan. Both of them were faithful communists. In 1937 Yevgenia Ginzburg was arrested and tried for her alleged connection to Trotskyists. She was sentenced to 10 years of solitary confinement in prison (later changed to 10 years of forced labour in labour camps). Vasily's father Pavel was arrested soon afterwards for a similar crime and was sentenced to 15 years of corrective labour.
Vasily remained in Kazan with his nanny and grandmother until NKVD arrested him as a son of the "enemies of the people" and sent him to an orphanage without giving any information to his family. In 1938 Pavel Aksyonov's brother managed to find Vasily in an orphanage in Kostroma and took him to live with his father's side of the family till 1948.
In 1948, after her sentence was completed, Yevgenia Ginzburg managed to obtain a permission for Vasily to join her in Magadan, Kolyma. She described their first meeting in her autobiographical book Journey into the Whirlwind. Vasily completed his school education in Magadan and a decision was made to send him to the Medical University in Kazan.
Vasily's half-brother Alexei (from Ginzburg's first marriage to Dmitriy Fedorov) died from starvation in besieged Leningrad in 1941.
Vasily Aksyonov is a convinced anti-totalitarian. On the presentation of his newest novel, he stated: "If in this country one starts erecting Stalin statues again, I have to reject my native land. Nothing else remains."
His other novels are
Colleagues ("Коллеги" - Kollegi, 1960)
Star Ticket ("Звёздный билет" - Zvyozdny bilet, 1961)
Oranges from Morocco ("Апельсины из Марокко" - Apel'siny iz Marokko, 1963)
It's Time, My Friend, It's Time ("Пора, мой друг, пора" - Pora, moy drug, pora, 1964)
It's a Pity You Weren't with Us ("Жаль, что вас не было с нами" - Zhal', chto vas ne bylo s nami, 1965)
Overstocked Packaging Barrels ("Затоваренная бочкотара" - Zatovarennaya bochkotara, 1968)
In Search of a Genre ("В поисках жанра" - V poiskakh zhanra, 1972)
The Island of Crimea ("Остров Крым" - "Ostrov Krym", 1979)
In Search of Melancholy Baby ("В поисках грустного бэби" - V poiskakh grustnogo bebi, 1987)
Yolk of the Egg (written in English, 1989)
The New Sweet Style ("Новый сладостный стиль" - Novy sladostny stil', 1998)
Voltairian Men and Women ("Вольтерьянцы и вольтерьянки" - Volteryantsy i volteryanki, 2004 - won the Russian Booker Prize).
He is the son of Yevgenia Ginzburg. Until 2003, Aksyonov was a professor of Russian at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
His new novel 'Moskva-kva-kva' (2006) was published in the Moscow magazine 'Oktyabr'. Aksyonov is now living in his Moscow apartment with his wife, Maya Zmeul, and has a second home in Biarritz, France.