Upålitelige minnerFoto: Ekko von Schwichow

Unreliable Memories


Maria Stepanova and Hedda Lingaas Fossum

Wednesday 19. October 2022, 19:00 until 20:00

Venue: Kjelleren - The Basement

Host: Litteraturhuset

Entrance: Ticket

Prices: Regular 100,-Student 70,-

Maria Stepanova is one of Russia’s most prominent poets and writers of her generation, often likened to writers such as Olga Tokarczuk and Svetlana Alexievich.

In her compendious work In Memory of Memory (translated into English by Sasha Dugdale), she explores how we create history from the present, and poses the question of whether it is at all possible to tell a story on the deads’ terms.

Through old letters and archives, as well as physical objects and places, she traces her own family history, in an attempt to capture their lives.

Stepanova grew up in the last decades of the Soviet Union in a Russian, Jewish family that survived the great upheavals and exterminations of the last century.

Their lives were neither extraordinary nor marked by heroic deeds, but like Alexievitch, Stepanova insists on showing us the lives of the individuals leading their daily lives in the midst of history’s many storms.

In a lyrical and philosophical language, Stepanova draws on thinkers such as Susan Sontag, Marcel Proust and Vladimir Nabokov. The book is simultaneously fragmentary, experimental and playful, and as much as a family memoir, it can be read as an exploration of memory itself.

She scrutinizes the human need to construct narratives: In a memorable passage, she describes her own emotional reaction to visiting the home of her grandfather – only to reveal that she had been in the wrong house.

At the House of Literature, Stepanova will be joined by critic Hedda Lingaas Fossum for a conversation about memories, the power of nostalgia and the small human beings in the great history.

The conversation will be in English.