Literature & Memory
Maria Stepanova, George Szirtes
Chair: Rebecca Taylor
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This still-young century has seen a blossoming of literature by Jewish writers across the world. How have they grappled with the enormous changes in politics and culture over recent decades? Poet and essayist Maria Stepanova was shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker for In Memory of Memory, the story of how her seemingly ordinary Russian Jewish family somehow managed to survive the myriad persecutions and repressions of the last century. For his poetry, translations and children’s books George Szirtes has won the Faber Prize, The European Poetry Translation Prize, the CLPE Prize and the Booker International Translation Prize. They will be in conversation with Jewish Renaissance editor Rebecca Taylor, who recently co-edited Age of Confidence: The New Jewish Culture Wave, a book marking the magazine’s 20th anniversary, featuring contributions by Howard Jacobson, Linda Grant and many more.
In Association with Jewish Renaissance
Maria Stepanova is a poet, essayist, journalist and the author of ten poetry collections and three books of essays. She has received several Russian and international literary awards (including the prestigious Andrey Bely Prize and Joseph Brodsky Fellowship). In Memory of Memory won Russia’s Bolshaya Kniga Award in 2018. Her collection of poems, War and the Beasts and the Animals, is published by Bloodaxe in Sasha Dugdale’s translation in 2021, and is a Poetry Book Society Translation Choice. In Memory of Memory, translated by Sasha Dugdale, was shortlisted for the Booker International Prize and longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize. Stepanova is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online independent crowd-sourced journal Colta.ru, which covers the cultural, social and political reality of contemporary Russia. Image cr Andrey Natotsinsky
A child refugee from Hungary in 1956, George Szirtes lives in the UK and published his first book of poems, The Slant Door, in 1979. It won the Faber Prize. He has published many since then, his collection, Reel, winning the T S Eliot Prize in 2004 for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest book is Fresh Out of the Sky (Bloodaxe 2021). Beside his English prizes he has been awarded various international ones for his own poetry and for his translations of Hungarian poetry and fiction, including The European Poetry Translation Prize, the Best Translated Book Prize in the USA and the Man Booker International Translation Prize for his work on the novels of László Krasznahorkai. His second book for children, In the Land of the Giants won the CLPE Prize for the best book of poems for children in 2012. He has written reviews and articles for major newspapers, programmes for the BBC and has edited a variety of books. His recent work with composers and performers includes poems for The Voice Project and the carol set by Richard Causton for the BBC broadcast Service of Carols at King’s College Chapel in 2015. His memoir of his mother, The Photographer at Sixteen, was awarded the James Tait Black Prize for Biography in 2020.
Rebecca Taylor is the editor of JR. She has been a journalist for 25 years, starting her career on the domestic news desk of The Japan Times newspaper in Tokyo and then returning to the UK where she worked at the Guardian for several years. She was the news editor at Time Out London for ten years where she interviewed everyone from Boris Johnson to Zadie Smith. She joined JR in 2015. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and she is the co-editor of Age of Confidence: The New Jewish Culture Wave, The History Press, 2021.