Maria Stepanova : photo by Andrey Natotsinsky

Maria Stepanova

Maria Stepanova, born in Moscow in 1972, is a poet, essayist, and journalist, and editor in chief of the online newspaper Colta. In 2018, she was awarded the Bolshaya Kniga Award for In Memory of Memory

In Memory of Memory

Fiction by Maria Stepanova

Translated by Sasha Dugdale

With the death of her aunt, the narrator is left to sift through an apartment full of faded photographs, old postcards, letters, diaries, and heaps of souvenirs: a withered repository of a century of life in Russia. Carefully reassembled with calm, steady hands, these shards tell the story of how a seemingly ordinary Jewish family somehow managed to survive the myriad persecutions and repressions of the last century. In dialogue with writers like Roland Barthes, W.…
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In Memory of Memory is a multifaceted essay on the nature of remembering.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
A luminous, rigorous, and mesmerizing interrogation of the relationship between personal history, family history, and capital-H History. I couldn’t put it down; it felt sort of like watching a hypnotic YouTube unboxing-video of the gift-and-burden that is the twentieth century. In Memory of Memory has that trick of feeling both completely original and already classic, and I confidently expect this translation to bring Maria Stepanova a rabid American fan base on the order of the one she already enjoys in Russia.
—Elif Batuman
Stepanova’s finely crafted debut follows a woman’s lifelong efforts to better understand her ancestors, Russian Jews whose stories fascinated her as a child growing up in the Soviet Union…[an] admirable cross-genre project will intrigue fans of erudite autofiction.
Publishers Weekly
There is simply no book in contemporary Russian literature like In Memory of Memory. A microcosm all its own, it is an inimitable journey through a family history which, as the reader quickly realizes, becomes a much larger quest than yet another captivating family narrative. Why? Because it asks us if history can be examined at all, yes, but does so with incredible lyricism and fearlessness. Because Stepanova teaches us to find beauty where no one else sees it. Because Stepanova teaches us to show tenderness towards the tiny, awkward, missed details of our beautiful private lives. Because she shows us that in the end our hidden strangeness is what makes us human. This, I think, is what makes her a truly major European writer. I am especially grateful to Sasha Dugdale for her precise and flawless translation which makes this book such a joy to read in English. This is a voice to live with.
—Ilya Kaminsky
A book to plunge into. ‘Everyone else’s ancestors had taken part in history’ writes Stepanova; building itself via accumulation, these chapters become an important testimony to the cultural and political lives of the people held beneath the surface of the tides of history.
—Andrew McMillan
Dazzling erudition and deep empathy come together in Maria Stepanova’s profound engagement with the power and potential of memory, the mother of all muses. An exploration of the vast field between reminiscence and remembrance, In Memory of Memory is a poetic appraisal of the ways the stories of others are the fabric of our history.
—Esther Kinsky
Maria Stepanova is one of Russia’s most influential cultural figures.
The Moscow Times
Stepanova has given new life to the skaz technique of telling a story through the scrambled speech of an unreliable narrator, using manic wordplay and what one critic called ‘a carnival of images.
Los Angeles Review of Books
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