Event Announcement: Two Olgas and One Genrikh: Russian Poems, Stories, & Shirts

Punctured Lines

When: Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7 PM – 10 PM EST
Where: Java’s Cafe, 16 Gibbs St, Rochester, New York 14604

Join us for a lively evening of stories, poems, and performance art by nonconformist writers from the former Soviet Union, in English.

Olga Livshin‘s book A LIFE REPLACED braids together poems on immigration in America with translations from Anna Akhmatova and our contemporary Vladimir Gandelsman, winner of Russia’s highest award for poetry, the Moscow Reckoning. Many poems are responses to these two voices; some are stand-alone works. Maggie Smith comments: “Livshin, who immigrated to the US from Russia as a child, acknowledges the two Americas she knows firsthand: the one that fears and demonizes, and the one that welcomes. A LIFE REPLACED is astonishingly beautiful, intelligent, and important.”

A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Olga Zilberbourg will introduce her English-language short story collection LIKE WATER AND…

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Book Events

The publication date for my debut English-language book LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES is approaching on September 5. If you are in the Bay Area, please come to the book party on September 12, 7 pm at Studio 333, Sausalito, CA. We will be celebrating my book together with Anita Felicelli’s novel CHIMERICA. Peg Alford Pursell, our publisher and the author of A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST, will host the event that will include a reading, a conversation, wine and cake.

I’m particularly delighted that, as a part of my book tour, I’ll be able to return to Rochester, New York, where I first landed when I came to the US in 1996. I look forward to visiting RIT and catching up with old friends as a part of this adventure. My Rochester event is scheduled for November 9th, 7:30 pm at Java’s in downtown Rochester — more information about that soon.

Below are two more upcoming Bay Area readings. More events are in the works, and I will update you as the book tour comes together!

On October 5 at 7 pm, I will be in conversation with Nancy Au, author of SPIDER LOVE SONG AND OTHER STORIES, at E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore, Oakland, CA

On October 7 at 7 pm, I will participate in Odd Mondays reading series at Folio Books, San Francisco, CA

Thank you for all of you who have pre-ordered my book — you should be receiving it soon. If you’d like to pre-order your copy of LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES, you can do it here.

Lisa Capps and Elinor Ochs, Constructing Panic

In this pioneering books, researches Lisa Capps and Elinor Ochs look at the narrative on a woman suffering from agoraphobia and study the way she authors her narrative and the way her narrative comes to form her reality.

The linguistic shaping of sufferers’ narratives has been generally glossed over, with the result that the therapeutic effect of telling one’s life stories with another person remains largely a mystery. Psychoanalysts tend to look through narrative rather than at narrative to identify underlying emotional dynamics and formative experiences. How a teller sculpts her tale–the grammatical form and the sequencing and intertwining of pieces of setting, enigmatic experiences, and outcomes–is not a focal point but rather a medium for exposing a deeper story.

We share the view that stories can offer a powerful medium for gaining insights not fully accessible to the narrator. Indeed we endorse the perspective, held by a number of philosophers and literary critics, that narrative creates stepping stones to self-understanding. To borrow the words of Vaclav Havel, narrative allows us to confront ourselves, “to return in full seriousness to the ‘core of things,’ to pose the primordial questions again and again, and from the beginning, constantly, to examine the direction [we are] going.”

Karolina Ramqvist’s The White City

I heard this author read during Litquake and bought the book. Part heist novel, part a novel about becoming a mother, it blends the genres so effortlessly that, having finished the book, I’m convinced that motherhood is a kind of a heist. Translated from Swedish by Saskia Vogel. A beautiful edition by the Black Cat imprint of Grove Atlantic.

The baby’s named Dream. (What a cool name!)

 She put one arm over the baby, who had gone back to nursing, and rested her head on the other, trying to unwind and sink into the sofa. She focused on her body, one part at a time; she noticed her teeth clenching and opened her mouth all the way. Opening and shutting it and working her jaw from side to side to relieve the tension.  …

Dream downed the milk, swallowing while nuzzled into her white breast. Round as the baby’s cheeks and head, round as the areola that peeked out because Dream hadn’t gotten a proper grip on her nipple again. Round and round, rounds and rounds. The milk dribbled out of the baby’s mouth and ran down her breast, leaving a sticky trail on her skin and a wet stain on her robe.

Does the body keep producing breast milk after death? If something were to happen to her, if she choked or a blood vessel burst in her brain or if someone were to break in and take her out for good, it would probably be a while before anyone would miss her. But if she had enough milk in her breasts, then Dream might have a chance of surviving until someone showed up.

She tried to concentrate on the softness.

 

Upcoming readings

I will read my story “Companionship” that won the Litquake fiction prize at a Lit Crawl event, “Writers on the Verge” will take place on October 14th, at 5 pm, at Samovar Tea Lounge on Valencia Street. Full details are here.

On Tuesday, October 10th, at 7 pm, my friend and colleague Alia Volz organizes a reading called “Straight, No Chaser: Writers at the Bar” at the iconic Vesuvio Cafe in San Francisco’s North Beach (its fame goes back to the Beat Generation). This reading features contributors to Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California (Outpost19), an anthology where one of my stories has appeared. I will read an excerpt from my story. The special guest is Charlie Jane Anders!

Litquake prize!

My short-short story “Companionship” won San Francisco’s Litquake’s short story prize! As a part of the prize, I will read it during an event on Saturday October 14 — more details about this reading to come. This is a very recent story that hasn’t yet been published anywhere. Here’s a teaser opening,

At three years old Michael did decide to return to his mother’s stomach. His mother shifted things around and made room under her heart. She lived a mostly stationary lifestyle, and so accommodating Michael was no problem. In fact, she appreciated the companionship…