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Episodic Memory


Liubov Holota is an author whose work evokes both the vastness of the Ukrainian Steppe and the claustrophobia of the vast open prison that was Ukrainian Soviet society. She has published several collections of richly lyrical poetry throughout her journalistic career. However, her novel, Episodic Memory (2007) is both a prose masterpiece and a vast lyrical poem. The book tells the story of a young girl growing up in a Ukrainian village and her return, as an adult, to be at her dying mother's bedside. While staying in her parent's house after the funeral, she is haunted by memories of a vanished world where Gypsies sang their way over the Steppe and the post man, a KGB informer, hurled the mail at their gatepost as his wagon hurtled past. The book uses the American psychologist Tulving's theory of episodic memory as a metaphor for the disintegration of communal narratives under the impact of globalisation. The prose enmeshes the reader in the sights and sounds of a vanished world, the diseased Eden of a rural Soviet childhood. The author provides us with a panoramic view of both the Steppe and a society that was trying to erode the language spoken in the villages dotted in its vast sea of grasslands.


Read an extract and find out what's like to receive a letter from your daughter in the Gulag here and be a child running with the collective farm horses here.


Episodic Memory a novel by Liubov Holota. Translated from the Ukrainian by Stephen Komarnyckyj. Now available from Amazon.


Liubov Holota

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EM front cover