Masha Gessen to speak about new book inspired by Wallenberg

March 1, 2018
Mandira Banerjee

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

DATE: 7-9 p.m. Friday, March 9, 2018

PLACE: 1010 Weiser Hall, 500 Church St., Ann Arbor

EVENT: Masha Gessen, an author, activist and journalist, will discuss her new book, “Never Remember: Searching for Stalin’s Gulags in Putin’s Russia,” which will be released this spring.

Gessen, who received the University of Michigan’s Wallenberg Medal in 2015, and photographer Misha Friedman embarked on a project inspired by the disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg, tracing the path of the Soviet Gulags and others who disappeared or were forgotten.

In the book, Gessen documents people like Nikolai Kovach who grew up in an orphanage in Russia and started looking for his parents in 1953 when he turned 17. The orphanage director said to him “You come from nowhere.” Repeated requests to find information about his family were denied.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, documents from the Stalin era were released, and in 1991 Nikolai was connected with a sister he never knew existed. Together, they researched and learned that their parents were convicted of espionage and executed in the Gulag.

“The project was not about actually physically finding Wallenberg, but about doing some sort of joint exploration of memory and the search for the dead in Russia,” Gessen said. “To me, the Wallenberg story is the quintessential story about it, and that’s why the book begins with it.”

Books by the authors will be available to purchase from Literati following the lecture.

INFORMATION: The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit myumi.ch/Jl19m

SPONSORS: This project was made possible in part by a major grant from the Wallenberg Executive Committee and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, which contributed to Gessen’s research and travel costs for her book.