In Memory of Memory

Longlist, National Book Awards 2021 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9780811228831
New Directions
Maria Stepanova

Maria Stepanova, born in Moscow in 1972, is a poet, essayist, and journalist, and editor in chief of the online newspaper Colta. She was awarded the Bolshaya Kniga Award for In Memory of Memory. (Photo credit: Andrey Natotsinsky) More about this author >

Sasha Dugdale

Sasha Dugdale is a poet and translator. She has published five collections of poetry with Carcanet (UK), the most recent, Deformations, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. She is a translator of Russian drama and poetry, including work by Elena Shvarts and Marina Tsvetaeva, and the former editor of the international magazine Modern Poetry in Translation. (Photo credit: New Directions) More about this author >

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Translated from the Russian


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. G. Sebald, Susan Sontag, and Osip Mandelstam, In Memory of Memory is imbued with rare intellectual curiosity and a wonderfully soft-spoken, poetic voice. Dipping into various forms—essay, fiction, memoir, travelogue, and historical documents—Stepanova assembles a vast panorama of ideas and personalities and offers an entirely new and bold exploration of cultural and personal memory.