Making Sense of the Missing
In a conversation with Maria Stepanova, Clair Wills will discuss her latest book, Missing Persons, Or my Grandmother’s Secrets, a social history and a family memoir that reveals the national culture of silence and concealment in 20th Century Ireland and the violence of these family secrets on women, their legitimacy, their motherhood, and their agency.
Clair Wills is a cultural historian who writes about lived experience in twentieth century Britain and Ireland. Her most recent book, Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain, won the Irish Times International Non-Fiction Prize in 2017. She is King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge. Her current research is on life stories told across the boundaries of carceral institutions, including Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland, and post-war British psychiatric institutions.
Maria Stepanova (born in Moscow in 1972) is a poet, essayist and editor, the recipient of several Russian and international literary awards, including the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding (2023). Her poems have been translated into a number of languages, including English, German, French, Italian, and Swedish. Her documentary novel Pamiati pamiati (In Memory of Memory) came out in Russian in November 2017 and received the Russian Big Book Prize in December 2018. The book was translated into 27 languages, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and Prix Médicis, and longlisted for the National Book Award. It has also received the French Prix de Meilleur Livre Étranger (2022). Since 2022 Stepanova is based in Berlin.