The 5th Open Eurasia Book Forum & Literature Festival was held from the 25th to 28th November 2016. As the world’s leading literature festival for promoting Eurasian literature on an international level, one of the primary parts of the weekend-long event is the chance for authors to win an opportunity to have their book published. In 2016 the cash prize amounted to $32,000 and attracted more than 1,400 authors from 43 countries. The winners were as follows:


1st place: Maral Kydyrova (Turkmenistan) for her story, One Day of the Big Year.

Maral is a qualified philologist and Russian language teacher. She works as a journalist for a website where she writes about her fellow countrymen, creative people, authors, artists, actors, and musicians. She has a strong interest in studying the biographical genre. Maral has been fond of creative writing since she was a child. Her poems, fairy-tales, and stories have been published in local newspapers. “I am keen on the history of my native land and I used to write my own columns in a local newsletter which were called ‘Ashgabat 100 Years Ago’ and ‘On a Great Silk Road’. The research for most of these articles was done through the archives available to me at my national library. My story, ‘One Day of the Big Year’ is based on my mother’s stories about her childhood. The reason why I wrote this story is because they are about the harsh times of war and I feel they are worthy of being heard. I said to myself, ‘I must not let these humble, yet heartwarming and kind stories, be lost in time’”.

2nd place: Muhammad Sharif (Uzbekistan) for his story, Somon Yŭli (Сомон Йўли). 

He is a graduate of the Faculty of Journalism of the Tashkent State University (1988-1993) and he has worked as a journalist for over 20 years. He began publishing his short stories in the 1990s. In 2016 his first book, Tolkuprik, a collection of short stories and novels, was published.  In 2015, Zvezda literature magazine in St. Petersburg, Russia, published his short story, Kuldirgich, in Russian.  In 2014 his novel about life in the Soviet Army, Memoirs of S.A., had become one of the five winners in the regional competition called Novellasia, where works of more than one hundred authors from the five Central Asian countries were represented.

3rd place: Yulya Sibirtseva (Russia) for her novel, Wings in the Box.

Yulya Sibirtseva does not actually need a pen name considering nobody even believes her surname is real. She is too old to be a teenager, but not old enough to fit into the adult world. She likes observing, listening to, and thinking sometimes. When thoughts are stuck in her head she writes them down, an act which has now become a habit – she guesses that this is how one becomes a writer.

3rd place: Oleg Chernitsyn (Russia) for his novel, Bread.

With a brown belt in Aikido and a background managing positions for public organisations and corporations, Oleg is also an active writer producing psychological stories and has been the winner of a series of literary competitions in the past.


1st place: Aliya Karimova (Republic of Tatarstan, Russia) for her book, Kuttuu Yygө Kabar Aytpay, Chakyrtpay (Куттуу Yйгө Kабар Aйтпай, Чакыртпай).

Aliya is a poet, translator of Turkic languages (Tatar, Kirghiz, Chuvash and Bashkir) and is a member of the Tatarstan Writers’ Union and Tatar PEN Center. She is the author of the following books; ‘Another Dress’ (Kazan, Tatar Book Publishing House, 2006), ‘Alifba – Tatar Alphabet’ (Moscow, Mardzhani’s Publishing House, 2012), ‘Cold – Hot’ (Kazan, Tatar Book Publishing House, 2015). She is also the winner of Kazan Literary Award named after M. Gorky (2007) and Republic Prize Award named after G. Derzhavin (2016).

2nd place: Nadezhda Serebrennikova (USA) for her novel, Born Against All Odds.

After she quit being a journalist for a well-respected, yet boring, newspaper in St. Petersburg, Nadezhda became a freelancer and commenced writing her first novel, Born Against All Odds. Since moving to California in 2013 she has focused on pursuing writing on her own terms, producing stories for both kids and adults.

3rd place: Ekaterina Kravchuk (Belarus) for her novel, One Day of a Long Year or When the Father Came Back. 

Ekaterina considers herself a creative person and likes to participate in various literary competitions.


1st place: Maria Lozbeneva (Russia) for her psychological fantasy, The Cat Who Knew How to Cry.

She always loved to draw. This is an essential part of her life and for her, it is a way of communication and expressing emotions or even a way to find inner peace.       

2nd place: Zhenis Nurlybayev (Kazakhstan) for his story, Qonırqaz (Қоңырқаз).

Kazakh painter, art critic, author of the Year of Cultural Support emblem in Kazakhstan (2000), and laureate of the presidential grant of The Republic of Kazakhstan (2010). In 1989 he worked as the art illustrator of ‘Ak Zhelken’ journal in Almaty; 1990-91 he was art editor of ‘Zerde’ journal in Almaty; 1991-93 he was the artist of ‘Madeniet’ journal in Almaty; and 1994-2009 he was artist of ‘Tura Bi’ journal (Almaty and Astana). He has also had personal exhibitions held in the President’s Culture Center (April 2003, Astana); Abilkhan Kasteyev State Art Museum (December 2005, Astana); Museum Of Modern Art (December 2006, Astana); School-Lycée № 53 (November 2007, Astana); Kulanshi art gallery (April 2009, Astana); and The Quintessence in the National State Library of Kazakhstan (November 2010, Astana).

3rd place: Dina Gorkavchenko (Russia) for her story, Cat Martin’s Amazing Adventure.

Dina is a graphic artist born in Kazakhstan. She loves the traditional techniques of graphic art such as chalcography, xylography, lithography, and etching. She lives and works in Chelyabinsk.

3rd place: Nadezhda Adamenko (Belarus) for her poem, East Drawing.

She likes to draw, read and she engages in belly dancing.


1st place: Dlyaver Dvadziev (Republic of Crimea), winner of the Nemat Kelimbetov Award for, My Homeland, Oh My Crimea.

He has been working as a TV producer for 10 years and began his career as a videographer in the news media. He lives and creates in his beautiful and native Crimea. He is into creating musical clips, promo films, advertising, and photography.

2nd place: Maria Abadieva (Kazakhstan) for her drama film, Evidence.

In 2014 she graduated from the Kazakh National Academy of Arts named after T.K. Zhurgenov, where she learned to direct feature films and TV. In 2015 she was a finalist with her movie, CHOICE, which won the Best Actress award for Dinara Zhumagalieva at the 5th Svirsky Mif International Film Festival; 2014/13 winner of the international competition based on the myths, fairytales and epics of Asia; 2013 prize from the Ministry of Culture and Information; 2013 winner of the scholarship fund, First President – Leader of the Nation. In 2015 she entered the magistracy in the Kazakh National Academy of Arts named after T.K. Zhurgenov.

3rd place: Alexandra Shpartova (Belarus) for her novel, Canons of David-Gorodok.

In 2005 she graduated from the Minsk State Musical College. Following this she graduated from the Belarus State Academy of Arts as a film and theatre actor in 2011. Her non-fiction film, Canons of David-Gorodok, was her first debut in 2012 and in 2014 she produced her second documentary, Face. She has received a special prize at the international film festival, Magnificat, in 2012; first place in the premiere category at Russia’s Golden Vityaz International Film Festival in 2013; an award at the Light of the World international film festival in 2014; and lastly a special award/cash prize at the Kunaky Open Film Festival in 2014.

3rd place – Anna Bernes (Kazakhstan) for her story, Dear Shakespeare.

In her own words, Anna says, “I’m just a girl from Kazakhstan with a camera and craving for something extraordinary”. In her spare time she likes reading psychology and criminology books, as well as eating carrot cake.