In Memory of Memory

Original author: Maria Stepanova

Translated by: Sasha Dugdale

Winner of the 2023 Berman Literature Prize
Shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize
Longlisted for the National Book Awards: Translated Literature
Longlisted for the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize
Longlisted for the 2022 Dublin Literary Award

An exciting contemporary Russian writer explores terra incognita: the still-living margins of history.

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 Dipping into various forms—essay, fiction, memoir, travelogue, and historical documents—Stepanova assembles a vast panorama of ideas and personalities, offering an entirely new and bold exploration of cultural and personal memory.


Maria Stepanova

MARIA STEPANOVA, born in Moscow in 1972, is one of the most powerful and distinctive voices of Russia’s first post-Soviet literary generation. Stepanova’s works have been translated into many languages and published widely. She has received several literary awards, including the prestigious Andrey Bely Prize and Joseph Brodsky Fellowship. Her novel, In Memory of Memory, was a finalist for the 2021 International Booker Prize and has been translated into many languages. Stepanova is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the online independent crowd-sourced journal, Colta, which covers the cultural, social and political reality of contemporary Russia. She lives in Berlin.


Sasha Dugdale

SASHA DUGDALE was born in Sussex, England. A poet, writer, and translator, she has published five collections of poems with Carcanet Press, most recently Deformations, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2020, and an Observer Book of the Year 2020. She won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016 and in 2017 she was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize for Poetry. She is former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and is Poet-in-Residence at St John’s College, Cambridge (2018-2021).


“This remarkable account of the author’s Russian-Jewish family expands into a reflection on the role of art and ethics in informing memory. After the death of an aunt, Stepanova examines family lore and heirlooms that hint at how the family largely survived the atrocities of the tsarist and Soviet eras. She probes gaps in her knowledge, and—drawing on artists and writers including Charlotte Salomon and Marina Tsvetaeva—considers how memories are perpetuated and manipulated.” —The New Yorker

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“The hybrid book that Ms. Stepanova has finally produced presents gleanings from her family archives alongside the labyrinthine narrative of her ‘search for the past,’ which she concedes is incomplete and in many ways unsuccessful. And amidst the personal artifacts are essay-like meditations on the tensions that inhere within any act of remembrance. The result is a rich, digressive, deeply introspective work.” —Wall Street Journal

“A remarkable work of the imagination—and, yes, memory.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“[Stepanova is] a writer who will likely be spoken about in the same breath as Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk and Belarus’s Svetlana Alexievich in years to come… 2021 is the year of Stepanova.” —The Guardian

“[A] daring combination of family history and roving cultural analysis… a kaleidoscopic, time-shuffling look at one family of Russian Jews throughout a fiercely eventful century.” —The New York Times

In Memory of Memory is a stunning and ambitious reckoning with the fragility of memory, the Jewish imperative to remember, and the unbridgeable chasm separating us from our ancestors.” —Ali Hassani, BOMB Magazine


  • Dublin Literary Award 2022, Long-listed
  • Bolshaya Kniga Award 2018, Winner
  • NOS Literature Prize 2019, Winner
  • Berman Literature Prize 2023, Winner
  • International Booker Prize 2021, Short-listed
  • Baillie Gifford Prize 2021, Long-listed
  • National Book Award for Translation 2021, Long-listed
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    448 Pages
    8.50in * 5.50in * 1.40in


    March 02, 2021


    Book*hug Press



    Book Subjects:

    FICTION / Family Life / General

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