Polina Barskova was born and brought up in Leningrad over 30 years after the end of the siege of that city by the Germans during WWII. The siege lasted from September 1941 to January 1944. The siege cast a long shadow which still affected the lives of the children in the 1970s and early 1980s. Reminders were all around, a preserved bomb shelter, missing buildings, walls scarred by shell fragments, and in memorials.
Barskova is a scholar of the literature and art of the blockade. She wants to know how people responded to and made sense of the blockade as well as how they lived with one another in these conditions. Family members had to divide insufficient resources amongst themselves when face-to-face with each other’s suffering. These psychological cruelties affected the survivors who also had to try and attempt forgiveness.
Archives of text from the siege times are still being discovered and Polina Barskova finds creative ways to commemorate these ghosts from her home city’s past in this book, a collage of fiction, memoir, and archival material.