Living Pictures: Book Presentation with Polina Barskova

Living Pictures: Book Presentation with Polina Barskova

Saturday, Oct 22, 2022 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Globus Books
332 Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA



Globus Books is pleased to invite you to Polina Barskova's in-person presentation of her new book ''Living Pictures'' published by New York Review Books. This event will be held at Globus Books store in San Francisco's inner Richmond District (please see our FAQ for more info). Proof of Vaccination Required. Please keep your mask on between sips and bites of refreshments.

Doors 5:45pm

Reading 6:00pm

This event is free to attend, but RSVP is required at this link.


About ''Living Pictures"

A poignant collection of short pieces about the author’s hometown, St. Petersburg, Russia, and the siege of Leningrad that combines memoir, history, and fiction. Living Pictures refers to the parlor game of tableaux vivants, in which people dress up in costume to bring scenes from history back to life. It’s a game about survival, in a sense, and what it means to be a survivor is the question that Polina Barskova explores in the scintillating literary amalgam of Living Pictures. Barskova, one of the most admired and controversial figures in a new generation of Russian writers, first made her name as a poet; she is also known as a scholar of the catastrophic siege of Leningrad in World War II. In Living Pictures, Barskova writes with caustic humor and wild invention about traumas past and present, historical and autobiographical, exploring how we cope with experiences that defy comprehension. She writes about her relationships with her adoptive father and her birth father; about sex, wanted and unwanted; about the death of a lover; about Turner and Picasso; and, in the final piece, she mines the historical record in a chamber drama about two lovers sheltering in the Hermitage Museum during the siege of Leningrad who slowly, operatically, hopelessly, stage their own deaths.

A haunting and magnificent debut fiction collection. . . . This beautiful attempt to reconstruct the lives of the lost, blended with an account of a new life built from the rubble, deserves a wide readership.
Publishers Weekly starred review

These fractured poem-stories are composed of disjunctively arranged images, slices of memory both personal and historical, and a shadowy array of citations of varying levels of obscurity and recognizability, creating unique prose tissues that carve out a space for themselves in an ambiguous zone between critical essay, autobiography, poetry, and short fiction. What is unambiguous is their success: They are extraordinarily powerful works, at turns densely evocative and dizzyingly erudite, doing many of the best things that writing can do. Barskova, following the method of her poetry, manages by painstaking technique and sheer force of image to ponder herself considering the Siege and its survivors, drawing from life and art to represent an experience of personal trauma mediated by communication with history.
—Jack Rockwell, Full-Stop

A genre-bending story featuring memoir, art criticism, and the story of two lovers stuck in the Hermitage during the blockade
—Matt Janney, Calvert Journal 

A precise, tremendous and beautiful book.
—Maria Stepanova

Living Pictures is a highly poetic book about memories of a Soviet childhood and a reinvention in the USA, with interludes of a choir of voices from St. Petersburg. Polina Barskova’s prose elegantly joins all the genres to create a new narrative form.
—Christine Hamel, WDR

Living Pictures is . . . a richly woven book on art, artists, the conditions of their mutual pervasion in times of endurance.
—Jonis Hartmann, Fixpoetry

About the author

Polina Barskova is a poet and a scholar, author of twelve collections of poems and two books of prose in Russian. Her collection of creative nonfiction, “Living Pictures,” received the Andrey Bely Prize in 2015. She edited the Leningrad Siege poetry anthology Written in the Dark (UDP) and has three collections of poetry published in English translation: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press), The Zoo in Winter (Melville House) and Relocations (Zephyr Press). She has taught at Hampshire College, Amherst College, and Smith College. Starting in Fall 2021, Barskova teaches at UC Berkeley.


Unable to attend the event? Purchase a signed copy of Living Pictures here.


  • We will have  copies of a book available for purchase at the event.

  • Seating will be first come, first serve.

  • This event will not be livestreamed.

  • If you would like a copy of the book without participating in the event, books will be available for pick up at 332 Balboa after the event at no extra charge. If you would like the book shipped, additional charges will apply.


  • The entrance to this event is at street-level with no stairs leading into or out of the venue.

  • There is only street parking available outside of the venue. Public transportation is encouraged.

  • Seats are limited.