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Join host Mikhail Iossel every week for conversations with some of the world's most prominent writers and publishers. Mikhail's unique method of interview means you're not just hearing the same old tired answers. HLS gets right to the key questions and reveals something new about each guest.

Half the List of Ships Half the List of Ships

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Join host Mikhail Iossel every week for conversations with some of the world's most prominent writers and publishers. Mikhail's unique method of interview means you're not just hearing the same old tired answers. HLS gets right to the key questions and reveals something new about each guest.

    Sergey Kanovich (Rebroadcast)

    Sergey Kanovich (Rebroadcast)

    Clouds like white whales -- or zeppelins, if you will, in the way of an uncomplicated jocular reference, considering the specific locale under discussion. Countless, they stand immovably above your head, as if watching you, coldly, dispassionately. The Baltic sky -- a gelled reflection of itself in the sea below -- is unlike any other you'll ever see. There is no way to describe it with any greater specificity. In a country too small to define its various geographic regions in terms of the old compass points, that skyful of infinite cloud count is a country unto itself. One could say, at the risk of sounding somewhat excessively literary (but then again, why not), that the said metaphoric land of the immovable white clouds above is where the dead, and especially those unjustly killed in great numbers, dwell in uneasy peace.

    Those discrete dispassionate white clouds above your head: they make you feel vulnerable, somehow -- and vaguely guilty, too, for being alive -- as you near the large village/small town of your destination, the site of the memorial-in-progress to the many hundreds of its Jews (*all* of the place's Jews in presence at the time, to be more emphatic abut it) killed in the course of a couple of days for the only reason, well, of their being Jews, some seventy-plus years ago (which is not even a nano-second on History's stopwatch, to state the obvious); as you cross a large segment of the said tiny East-Central European country, in the company of a local journalist, smart and cool. and a bearded young logistics fellow affiliated with the memorial, along the diagonal distance of some two hours from the country's capital, in a car driven by the genial man responsible for the implementation of the entire project on the ground.

    And then, via a minor time lapse, you are there. It is a large village/small town like many others in this country, where virtually all of the Jews who had lived there for centuries were exterminated (not merely killed, mind you: exterminated, as some subhuman vermin variety) by the Nazis and a considerable number of their eager and enthusiastic local accomplices and collaborators during the Holocaust. Now those exterminated Jews are being restored, via a memorial of an impossible-to-ignore scope, to the status of unjustly and brutally murdered human beings.

    The memorial under completion has several parts and aspects to it: it is a complex, multi-dimensional project, whose single objective is to honor the terminated, exterminated lives of the local Holocaust-era Jews at the three sites of their extermination, as well as the lives and deaths of the Jews who had been living and dying there for centuries, eons ago -- by bringing back to life the sprawling and long-decimated local Jewish cemetery (indeed, bringing it back to life is the most important thing one can do for a Jewish cemetery in the small country in question) -- and finally, building from scratch, for the first time ever in country's history, the museum of local Jewish life as it once was and will never be again.

    Those clouds stand above you head, and above the tall treetops, silently, in the dense and quiet local forest, where one installation in the multi-part memorial represents a large black door, pushed half-ajar, standing in the exact spot where the town/village's Jews, all of them, were brought over and exterminated, quickly and efficiently and dispassionately, with a hail of bullets. You stand on one side of the door, and you're alive... for now, at least. On the door's other side, however, the same slice of sylvan vista represents death, and the passage between life and death is a hauntingly narrow and cruelly arbitrary one -- almost an accident, an afterthought.

    And it is, of course, but an accident of fate, a quirk of your minor personal, private little destiny, that you, while being essentially the same as them and

    • 52 Min.
    Binyavanga Wainaina (Rebroadcast)

    Binyavanga Wainaina (Rebroadcast)

    *This episode originally aired as Cosmonauts Avenue podcast #8 in March 2015*

    Binyavanga Wainaina is one of Africa's and the world's most recognized literary figures. He is a highly accomplished and multi-award-winning author, editor, publisher and journalist. He rose to prominence after his short story "Discovering Home" won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, after which he founded the influential literary magazine Kwani? - the first of its kind in East Africa. Following the renown of his 2003 satirical essay "How to Write About Africa," he was given an award by the Kenya Publisher's Association for his contributions to Kenyan literature. From 2008-2012 he was a Bard Fellow and Director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Literature. His debut novel "One Day I Will Write About This Place" was published in 2011. In April 2014, Time Magazine named him one of the World's 100 Most Influential People.

    • 1 Std. 25 Min.
    #1 Sergey Gandlevsky (Русский Язык)

    #1 Sergey Gandlevsky (Русский Язык)

    *This episode is in Russian.*

    Sergey Gandlevsky is widely considered to be one of the most influential and eminent Russian poets of the twentieth and twenty-first century. A graduate of Moscow State University, Gandlevsky was a member of the 1970s group of poets “Moscow Time.” He began publishing his poems in the 1980s and today is one of the most published Russian poets in the world. He has received numerous Russian and international literary awards, including the anti-Booker Prize in 1996. He has released several books including a bilingual edition of his poems, A Kindred Orphanhood.

    • 53 Min.

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