The Novel by Katja Petrowskaja “Perhaps Esther”: Fictional Topography of a Family


  • Sofiya Varetska Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine



family topography, german family novel, memory, history, war, archive, Katja Petrowskaja, “Maybe Esther”


The literary debut, the novel “Maybe Esther” by Katja Petrowskaja, was published in 2014 in the Berlin publishing house “Suhrkamp” in German and immediately fell into the bestseller category. The work caused a considerable resonance in the German-speaking cultural environment. Even before the appearance of a full-fledged novel, the author received one of the most prestigious literary awards – the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for reading of a fragment from a future book, which would later appear in a work called “Babi Yar”. However, the laureate wasn’t an ethnic German woman, but an immigrant – Ukrainian by origin, born in Kyiv. The young author tells the story of his multicultural family (Ukrainian / Polish / Jewish / Russian) going deeper up to the 19th century. Through specific events of a small family such significant phenomena as revolution, war, ghetto, concentration camp, Holocaust, Babi Yar, occupation, various kinds of persecution etc. are seen. Therefore, a mosaic of small self-sufficient stories emerges, which create a large historical panel. The author is the bearer of a multifaceted and complex genetic memory.

Author Biography

Sofiya Varetska, Ivan Franko National University of Lviv

Department of German Philology

Ivan Franko National University of Lviv

1 Universytetska St., 79000, Lviv, Ukraine


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How to Cite

Varetska, S. “The Novel by Katja Petrowskaja ‘Perhaps Esther’: Fictional Topography of a Family”. Pitannâ lìteraturoznavstva, no. 104, Dec. 2021, pp. 48-58, doi:10.31861/pytlit2021.104.048.



Poetics. Historical Poetics