Vielleicht Esther

©‎ Park KonykiadoCecília Stenszky
Katya Petrovszkaja megtalálja a múltját ( Katja Petrovskaja finds her past), 27 March 2015

Katja Petrowskaja: Talán Eszter ©‎ Magvető VerlagA Kiev writer of Russian descent has set out to trace her ancestors in order to unravel the previously tangled threads that have an impact on her own life as well, and what is more, she has done so in the German language. She is spontaneously and unaffectedly sincere, and that is precisely what makes Katja Petrowskaja’s book Perhaps Esther thoroughly authentic.

Her language and thinking are creative. She connects what she discovers with her soul, with the path into the past, and with the words that are called upon to portray, at least in part, lives that cannot be represented. Simple archive records supplement the character portraits of these ancestors in each chapter.

The protagonists appearing in the stories are sometimes old, sometimes young, sometimes children. In the midst of the adversities of the twentieth century, a mere word often gives them a clearly defined, yet multi-layered personality. These protagonists give the story of a life a space that the author senses or knows. Without pointless digressions and with care, Katja Petrowskaja builds up the text, captivating the reader right to the end with the text he is reading about what happened on a particular day on a street corner in Kiev when the great-grandmother of Perhaps Esther was scuttling towards her Achillean fate.

It is good to read Perhaps Esther, a creative and dense text. At the same time it is real, insofar as it is possible for the past put into words to be reality, and that is another thing that lends the book credibility. Its greatest beauty, however, is that the simple Russian, Polish, Jewish ancestors and their courageous descendants, torn randomly this way and that by fate, make all that is humanly possible out of the impossible situations in a unscathed language that preserves depth; that is what can uplift the soul. What Petrowskaja presents in this book is neither pedantic nor competitive nor flippant, and because she writes with simple openness, this is not only perhaps, but really literature.

Katja Petrowskaja
Talán Eszter (Origin.: Vielleicht Esther)
Translation: Imre Kurdi
Budapest: Magvető, 2015
ISBN 978-963- 142815-5