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What Language Do I Dream In?

Elena Lappin, Hisham Matar

26/02/2017
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Elena Lappin’s life as a multiple emigré could be described as ‘five languages in search of an author’. Russian, Czech, French, German, Hebrew and English – each language is a link to a different piece of her rich family mosaic. Triggered by the discovery of a biological father she never knew, Lappin’s memoir is the story of finding a voice in a language not one’s own, and a meditation on how language runs throughout memory and family history to form identity. She writes: ‘As a writer, I died when my parents decided to emigrate, and I knew it. And then came the miracle of being reborn in English.’ She talks to novelist Elif Shafak about writing in English. Chaired by Lucy Scholes.

Elena Lappin

Elena Lappin is a writer and editor. Born in Moscow, she grew up in Prague and Hamburg and has lived in Israel, Canada, the USA and London. She is the editor of ONE, an imprint of Pushkin Press.

Hisham Matar

Hisham Matar was born in New York to Libyan parents, grew up in Tripoli and Cairo and has lived most of his adult life in England. His debut novel In the Country of Men won numerous international prizes.

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