Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (/nəˈbɔːkəf, ˈnæbəˌkɔːf, -ˌkɒf/; Russian: Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков, pronounced [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr nɐˈbokəf] ( listen), also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin; 22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1899c – 2 July 1977) was a Russian-American novelist. While Nabokov's first nine novels were in Russian, he later rose to international prominence as a writer of English prose. He also made serious contributions as a lepidopterist and chess composer. Nabokov's Lolita (1955) is his most famous novel, and often considered his finest work in English. It exhibits the love of intricate word play and synesthetic detail that characterised all his works. The novel was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels; Pale Fire (1962) was ranked at 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory, was listed eighth on the Modern Library nonfiction list. He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times, but never won it.