Set in places as diverse as San Francisco, small-town Massachusetts, Siberia, and (of course) Leningrad–Petersburg, these stories come forward as searchingly intimate and by turns tender, sensuous, macabre, absurd, ambivalent, yet always immensely and movingly vulnerable.
—Anna Razumnaya, Meduza
A category-defying amalgam of memoir, history, criticism and fiction, it is a twenty-first- century descendant of Osip Mandelstam’s sui generis autobiography The Noise of Time (1925). . . . Barskova is a poetic virtuoso, and she puts her formidable gifts in service of this task.
—Clare Cavanagh, TLS
As narrator and guide. . .Barskova makes the unprocessed grief come alive. She spins it into non-narrative and non-linear poems and prose, a pastiche which mimics the very nature of traumatic memory: disassociated and halting.
—Tanya Paperny, Literary Hub
Barskova’s arguments or presentations of history or biography tend to follow poetic logic, and her own biography and recollections rest atop the city’s tragedy.
—Sibelan Forrester, World Literature Today
A haunting and magnificent debut fiction collection. . . . This beautiful attempt to reconstruct the lives of the lost, blended with an account of a new life built from the rubble, deserves a wide readership.
—Publishers Weekly starred review
These fractured poem-stories are composed of disjunctively arranged images, slices of memory both personal and historical, and a shadowy array of citations of varying levels of obscurity and recognizability, creating unique prose tissues that carve out a space for themselves in an ambiguous zone between critical essay, autobiography, poetry, and short fiction. What is unambiguous is their success: They are extraordinarily powerful works, at turns densely evocative and dizzyingly erudite, doing many of the best things that writing can do. Barskova, following the method of her poetry, manages by painstaking technique and sheer force of image to ponder herself considering the Siege and its survivors, drawing from life and art to represent an experience of personal trauma mediated by communication with history.
—Jack Rockwell, Full-Stop
A genre-bending story featuring memoir, art criticism, and the story of two lovers stuck in the Hermitage during the blockade
—Matt Janney, Calvert Journal
A precise, tremendous and beautiful book.
Living Pictures is a highly poetic book about memories of a Soviet childhood and a reinvention in the USA, with interludes of a choir of voices from St. Petersburg. Polina Barskova’s prose elegantly joins all the genres to create a new narrative form.
—Christine Hamel, WDR
Living Pictures is . . . a richly woven book on art, artists, the conditions of their mutual pervasion in times of endurance.
—Jonis Hartmann, Fixpoetry