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Maybe Esther
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The poignant, searching, haunting story of one family's entanglement with twentieth-century historyAN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER `Intensely involving ... a fervent meditation on love and loss, with a remarkable cast of characters' Financial Times`Rich, intriguing ... Maybe Esther calls to mind the itinerant style of W. G. Sebald' Guardian`Unflinchingly potent ... Revolutionaries, war heroes, teachers and phantoms populate these magnetic pages' Irish IndependentKatja Petrowskaja's family story is inextricably entangled with the history of twentieth-century Europe. There is her great-uncle, who shot a German diplomat in Moscow in 1932 and was sentenced to death. There is her Ukrainian grandfather, who disappeared during World War II and reappeared forty years later. And there is her great-grandmother - whose name may or may not have been Esther - who was too old and frail to leave Kiev when the Jews there were rounded up, and was killed by a Nazi outside her house.Taking the reader from Berlin to Warsaw, to Moscow, to Kiev, from Google searches, strange encounters and coincidences to archives, anecdotes and jokes, Katja Petrowskaja undertakes a journey in search of her own place in past and present, memory and history, languages and countries. The result is Maybe Esther - a singular, haunting, unforgettable work of literature.
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About the Author

Katja Petrowskaja was born in Kiev in 1970, to a Russian-speaking family. She studied literature in Tartu, Estonia and then completed her PhD in Moscow. She has lived in Berlin since 1999. She won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2013 and wrote her bestselling first book Maybe Esther, in German. It was published in 2014 and was awarded the Premio Strega Europeo Prize, the Aalen Town Schubart Literary Prize, the Ernst Toller Prize and the Aspekte Literature Prize. It was a Spiegel bestseller and has been translated into nineteen languages.

Reviews

`Unflinchingly potent ... Revolutionaries, war heroes, teachers and phantoms populate these magnetic pages' Irish Independent `Rich, intriguing ... Maybe Esther calls to mind the itinerant style of W. G. Sebald' Guardian `Intensely involving ... a fervent meditation on love and loss, with a remarkable cast of characters' Financial Times `Mesmerising. It is writing that dazzles ... deeply thoughtful and with insights that flash like sharp implements' New Statement 'There's a literary miracle on every page here, the sort of book that makes you fall in love with reading. There's poetry and politics in this family memoir, but most of all there's the pleasure of being in the company of Petrowskaja's talent. A Proust for the Google age' Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible 'This intimately told quest into the darkness of the 20th century is luminously unforgettable. The rich humanism of Petrowskaja's gaze, her many-cultured, good-humoured sensitivity, and her visionary use of the themes that emerge from her family's histories - silence, muteness, disguise, survival - infuse this book with the qualities of a classic. Maybe Esther, on her civilising journey `against time', will stay with me forever' Kapka Kassabova, author of Border `Rarely is research into family history this exciting, this moving. If this were a novel it would seem exaggerated and unbelievable. This is great literature' Der Spiegel `Modern German literature is richer for this intelligent, flamboyant and extremely original voice' Die Zeit

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