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writers in residence
In Residence
December 2016 — May 2017

Victor Martinovich

Belarus

Author

Victor Martinovich was born in 1977 and studied Journalism and Art History in Minsk. His first novel, Paranoia, (Northwestern University Press 2013, translated from Russian by Diane Nemec Ignashev), was unofficially banned in his homeland upon publication. “The novel is set in a city which corresponds in every detail to present-day Minsk. The challenge to the regime was obvious, and the novel vanished from the shelves after two days,” wrote Timothy Snyder, an expert on Eastern Europe, in an essay praising the novel in the New York Review of Books.

Сцюдзёнывырай (Icy South) was published exclusively as an e-book in 2011 and, according to the author, is still the most downloaded Belarusian novel. Mova, Martinovich’s fourth novel, is set in the year 4741 by the Chinese calendar in Minsk under Chinese-Russian rule and is about a drug of letters which has put the city into state of turmoil. Martinovich’s language has been described as having “a powerful pull effect”. Viktor Martinovich teaches political science at the European Humanities University in Vilnius and writes regularly for ZEIT online. In 2014 he was a visiting fellow of Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences and had a residential fellowship in the Literarisches Colloquium in Berlin 2015. /// As of November 24, 2016

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A Short Passage

Mova

“Sie entfaltete also rasch das Briefchen in ihrer Hand, der Text darauf war so winzig, dass wir die Köpfe zusammenstecken mussten, das fühlte sich gut an. Er war von Hand geschrieben, in unterschiedlich großen Druckbuchstaben, mit Verzerrungen wie bei den Captchas zur Onlinesicherheit. Inzwischen weiß ich, dass damit die mobilen Scanner ausgetrickst werden sollen, damals wunderte ich mich noch darüber. Der Text war gereimt und wunderschön. Beim ersten Lesen blieb mir ungefähr ein Drittel der Wörter unverständlich, ich las noch mal von vorn, und da kam ich auf den Trip. Wie so oft bei Mova-Texten ist er fest in meinem Hirn gespeichert, er wird noch da sein, wenn ich schon tot bin.”

— From “Mova” (Berlin, Voland & Quist 2016), translated from Belarusian to German by Thomas Weiler

Victor Martinovich on May 8, 2017 in the “Buchhandlung im Volkshaus” with host Tommy Egger and actress Dagny Gioulami. Photo Ralph Hut