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The writer Katja Petrowskaja will discuss family history and memory with Sasha Senderovich.

About the speaker

Petrowskaja's face looking to the side with one hand under her chinKatja Petrowskaja was born in 1970 in Kyiv, Ukraine, studied literature at the University of Tartu in Estonia, and was awarded fellowships to study at Columbia University and Stanford University. She received her doctorate in Moscow. Since 1999, she has lived and worked as a journalist in Berlin. Maybe Esther (English translation in 2018 by Shelley Frisch) is her first book,  was awarded the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2013 in Germany, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Pushkin House Prize in the U.K.

About this talk

How do you talk about what you can’t know, and how do you bring the past to life?Book cover of Maybe Esther: A family story by Katja Petrowskaja, translated from the German by Shelley Frisch

The writer Katja Petrowskaja wanted to create a kind of family tree, charting relatives who had scattered across multiple countries and continents, some of whom lived through and others died in the 20th century’s many calamities, including Stalinism and the Holocaust.In the stories of her travels to Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, and the United States, Petrowskaja reflects on a fragmented and traumatized century and brings to light family figures who threaten to drift into obscurity. Maybe Esther is a poignant, haunting investigation of the effects of history on one family as well as a deeply affecting exploration of memory.

This talk is hosted by the departments of Germanics and Slavic Languages & Literatures. It is co-sponsored by the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, the Simpson Center‘s Translation Studies Hub and the Transcultural Approaches to Europe Colloquium Series, and the Goethe Pop Up Seattle.

Free and open to UW students, faculty, staff, and the larger public.

RSVP: https://bit.ly/PetrowskajaUWEvent