Sophia Shalmiyev in Conversation with Leni Zumas
We are thrilled to welcome Sophia Shalmiyev at 7 pm on Thursday, April 18th, in conversation with Leni Zumas to discuss Shalmiyev's recently published memoir Mother Winter (Simon & Schuster).
Born to a Russian mother and an Azerbaijani father, Shalmiyev was raised in the stark oppressiveness of 1980s Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). An imbalance of power and the prevalence of antisemitism in her homeland led her father to steal Shalmiyev away, emigrating to America, abandoning her estranged mother, Elena. At age eleven, Shalmiyev found herself on a plane headed west, motherless and terrified of the new world unfolding before her.
Now a mother herself, in Mother Winter Shalmiyev depicts in urgent vignettes her emotional journeys as an immigrant, an artist, and a woman raised without her mother. She tells of her early days in St. Petersburg, a land unkind to women, wayward or otherwise; her tumultuous pit-stop in Italy as a refugee on her way to America; the life she built for herself in the Pacific Northwest, raising two children of her own; and ultimately, her cathartic voyage back to Russia as an adult, where she searched endlessly for the alcoholic mother she never knew. Kirkus Reviews describes the book thusly: "A rich tapestry of autobiography and meditations on feminism, motherhood, art, and culture, this book is as intellectually satisfying as it is artistically profound. A sharply intelligent, lyrically provocative memoir." Shalmiyev has an MFA from Portland State University and a second master's degree in creative arts therapy from the School of Visual Arts. She lives in Portland with her two children.
She will be joined in conversation by Leni Zumas, who directs the creative writing program at Portland State University. She is the author of the story collection Farewell Navigator and the novels The Listeners, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and her newest book Red Clocks, which is also a finalist for an Oregon Book Award (with winners to be announced April 22nd).