Ulitskaya was born in the town of Davlekanovo in Bashkiria and grew up in Moscow where she took a degree in genetics from the Moscow State University. She began her literary career by joining the Jewish drama theatre as a literary consultant.
Ulitskaya's first novella, Sonechka, published in 1992, almost immediately became extremely popular, and was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Award. Today her writing is much admired by the general reading public and critics in Russia and many other countries.
Ulitskaya's works have been translated into many foreign languages. In Germany her novels have been added to bestseller lists thanks to the featuring of her works on a television program hosted by literary critic Elke Heidenreich.
"In times where agitation, nationalism, chauvinism and ignorance in Russia, but even in many other places of the world, gain the upper hand, European culture exchange on a high level is especially necessary. With a European Union passport or not", Ostermayer said.
The Austrian State Prize for European Literature, also known as European Literary Award, was established in Vienna in 1965. Among the previous winners were Eugene Ionesco, Harold Pinter, Italo Calvino, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Stanislaw Lem, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie, Umberto Eco and Javier Marias.