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Sergej Lebedew  [ Russia ]

Biography

Portrait Sergej Lebedew
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2016.

Bibliography

Der Himmel auf ihren Schultern

S. Fischer

Frankfurt a. M., 2013

[Ü: Franziska Zwerg]

Menschen im August

S. Fischer

Frankfurt a. M., 2015

[Ü: Franziska Zwerg]

The Year of The Comet

New Vessel Press

New York, 2017

[Ü: Antonina W. Bouis]

Sergei Sergeyevich Lebedev was born in Moscow in 1981. He studied geology and journalism at Moscow State University from 1998 to 2001 and went on to work for a number of independent Russian media.

In addition to poems and essays, Lebedev published his first novel »Predel’ zabvenija« (Eng. »Oblivion«, 2016) in 2011. It is based on his own experiences in fundamental ways: Lebedev also came from a Soviet family of geologists and began searching at a very young age – to supplement his allowance – for minerals and crystals in abandoned mines, where he eventually discovered the remnants of a former Gulag. While investigating the history of his own family, the author also encountered traces of the past and discovered that his step-grandfather had been a Gulag commander. The »Neue Zürcher Zeitung« praised the novel as an attempt to break the silence about Stalinist terror and thus hold a mirror up to Putin's Russia, which seems oblivious to its own history. It also praised the author's »eloquent, atmospheric meditation on remembering, on forgetting and on Europe and its other, a narrative underpinned by psychology, the philosophy of history and mythology«. Lebedev's debut made several national bestseller lists and was translated into French, English, German, Czech. The English translation of his second novel, »The Year of the Comet« (2013) will reach bookstores in 2017. Here the author once again demonstrates his mastery, with an attention to detail that would elude others. He also has the ability to create unexpected connections, in this case between the small world of the child – which appears small at first glance only – and the collapse of the Soviet Union. »Kirkus Reviews« declared Lebedev on a par with great Russian writers such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who also refused to stay silent on social injustice. It took a considerable amount of time before a publisher in Russia was found for »Menschen im August« (2015; tr: »People in August«), Lebedev’s third novel, which has also been translated into German. Using the incomplete diary of his grandmother as a starting point, the narrator once again sets out on an archaeological literary journey, delivering what the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« called a portrait of Russia in the 1990s that moves beyond individual fates and demonstrates the extent to which totalitarian systems wear people down. In the novel, Lebedev shows that – although 1991 did indeed mark the tearing-down of many statues – the overall system of intimidation continues to this day.

In 2016, Lebedev is a literary fellow with a stipend from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.

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