Maria Stepanova: Memory Places
She has won most of the literary awards in her home country of Russia, and this year Maria Stepanova – along with her translator Sasha Dugdale – was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. One reviewer has even suggested that before long she will be spoken about in the same breath as Olga Tokarczuk and Svetlana Alexeievich – a hint that Stepanova could join them as Nobel laureates for literature. Stepanova’s masterwork, which she discusses at the Book Festival today, is In Memory of Memory, eloquently translated into English by Dugdale.
Thirty years in the making, it is a breathtaking collection of family memories gleaned from photographs, diaries, letters and souvenirs, long cherished by her Russian relatives. Part-memoir, part-fiction, it adds up to a forensic account of the Soviet era through the experiences of one Jewish family. Published at a time when so much of our lives are captured and recorded on digital mobile cameras and social media, Stepanova’s book asks searching questions about the nature of memory.