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.
`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 Statesman '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