22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Sergej Lebedew

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 himself 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«. The English translation of his second novel, »The Year of the Comet« [2013] was published in 2017. Here the author once again demonstrates his mastery and attention to detail. 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. In Lebedev’s third novel, »Ljudi awgusta« [2016; tr: People in August], which took some time to be published in Russia, the narrator once again sets out on an archaeological literary journey based on his grandmother’s diary, 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 his very personal novel »Gus Friz« [2018; Eng. »The Goose Fritz«, 2021], Lebedev traces his own family history along with German-Russian history over several centuries. His most recent novel »Debjutant« [2020; Eng. »Untraceable«, 2021] is a thriller set against the backdrop of the Cold War and the present about poisons from Russian laboratories, the murder of secret agents, and god-like scientists.

In various newspaper articles, Lebedev has taken a stand on the Russian war against Ukraine in 2022 and called for Russians to fundamentally rethink their culture, history, and political structures. The author lives in Potsdam.

Date: 2022