Boris Andreevich Pilnyak, real name: Boris Andreevich Vagau. Born 29 Sept (old style) 1894 in Mozhaisk. Spent childhood in Mozhaisk, Bogorodsk, and Kolomna. Also spent time in Saratov and the village of Ekaterinenshtate (later renamed Baronsk) on the Volga. His father was a veteranarian and his mother a teacher. They were active in the Populist movement. In 1920 he gratuated from the Moscow Commerce Institute, in the economics department, specializing in administrative finances. Began writing poetry at age nine. First poem published in 1909, when he was 14 years old. He considers his literary career began in 1915 when he was published in the journals "Russkaya Mysl", "Zhatva" and others.
In 1922 he visited Germany, and England in 1923. He made two lengthy trips to the Far East (1926 & 1932) and spent five months in the United States in 1931, where he was briefly under contract to MGM. "O.K.: An American Novel" (1932) contains his often disagreeable impressions of America.
His first major work, "The Naked Year" (1921), is a panorama of events of the revolution and the civil war told in a fragmentary, plotless, and stylistically heterogenous manner. "Tale of the Unextinguished Moon" (1926) contained an implication of the highest authorites (Stalin) in the death of military leader Mikhail V. Frunze. "Mahogony" (1929), which included an idealized portrait of a Trotskite Communist, was condemned as slanderous and Pilnyak was villified. Pilnyak knew members of the highest circles of authority. "The Volga Falls to the Caspian Sea" (1931) shows a struggle of sabateurs against true communists, who are trying to alter nature and establish a new morality.
Karl Radek was an intimate of Pilnyak's, and he was acquainted with Trotsky and some members of the secret police. He married three times and left three children. He was arrested in 1937 and apparently died the same year. (Some Soviet sources put his death at 1941.) Posthumously rehabilitated.
Other works include "Ryazan Apple" (1921); "The Blizzard" (1921); "The Third Capital" (1922); "Black Bread" (1923); "Machines and Wolves" (1924); "Mother Earth" (1924); "Beyond the Portage" (1925); "A Chinese Tale" (1927); and "Ivan Moscow" (1927).