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Growing up in Leningrad, Polina Barskova saw no trace of the estimated million people who died in the city during the Nazi blockade of 1941-44. As one of Russia’s most admired and controversial contemporary writers, she has repeatedly returned to the archive of texts still being recovered from the siege, finding creative ways to commemorate these ghosts from her home city’s past.
A chorus of their voices and stories appears in Living Pictures, a breathtakingly inventive literary collage of memoir, archival material and fiction. With blazing immediacy and wit, Barskova delves into traumas historical and personal, writing of memories from a Soviet childhood, her foundational relationships and losses, and a life spent excavating vital fragments from under Leningrad’s official history. Ending with a stunning chamber drama about two real people who died while sheltering in the Hermitage Museum during the siege, this is a rich, polyphonic work of living history.