The Memory Artist by Katherine Brabon – Book Review


Pasha Ivanov is a writer in Russia as it comes through Gorbachev and the end of the cold war, the fall of Communism. He recalls as a child, sitting in his family home as his parents and their friends, dissidents, met. Now, as an adult, he is struggling with his writing, with his relationships, with his connection to what the USSR was, what Russia is now, and what Russia has ever been.

I found this a very difficult book to engage with. I was surprised, as it was recommended by my mother who loved it and read it quickly, and is now wanting a reread. Often, we have similar tastes in books. But I found it hard to connect with Ivanov, I had trouble remaining in the time that each section was placed in, and I really struggled with what was dialogue and what was internal monologue. I usually have no problem with non-traditional representation of dialogue, and by this I suppose I mostly mean not using talking marks, but with this book I would think that a character had finished speaking and then realise a paragraph or two later that it was a longer story, and have to reread. Clearly, there is an audience for the book, but I’m afraid I’m not it.

The Memory Artist has been loved by many. It was listed within the Top Ten list from the ABCs “The Book Show” of books of 2016 as well as winning the Australian/Vogel Literary Award for 2016.

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