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Questioning at Point Zero

With Belarusian translator, essayist and cultural mediator Iryna Herasimovich

In German language

When Belarus was still a blank spot on the map, there was already an idiosyncratic, heterogeneous cultural scene that created spaces in which ideas of a life that was not controlled took shape. Under the unfavorable conditions of the rigid system, fixated on the Soviet past, a parallel society was able to develop, in niches, invisible to many. The repressions that have swept the country and traumatized society since the crushing of the white-red-white protests have also dissolved these niches.

In a conversation with editor Katharina Raabe, Iryna Herasimovich offers insights into this scene. Many things are now breaking open: repressed conflicts, illusions, hopes and disappointments. "Who is standing at which point? What was before that? What comes after?" It is vital today to face these questions in order to ensure the continuity of the threatened cultural scene, in and outside Belarus.

Iryna Herasimovich was born in Minsk in 1978. A literary translator and essayist, she has translated authors such as Lukas Bärfuss, Franz Hohler, Dea Loher, Nora Gomringer, Jonas Lüscher and Ilma Rakusa into Belarusian. She works as a dramaturge and curator in the field of visual arts and is a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry. In 2021 she is fellow of the Cultural Foundation Schloss Wiepersdorf. Her scholarship was made possible by Peter Kleimeier and numerous donors. We would like to express our sincere gratidude.

Katharina Raabe, born in Hamburg, is a literary editor with Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin. Her main mission is discovering and editing Central and East European writers in Germany. The list of publications 2000–2018 encompassed more than 200 titles (works by Yuri Andrukhovych, Joanna Bator, György Dragomán, Katja Petrowskaja, Andrzej Stasiuk, Serhij Zhadan, Tomas Venclova a.o.). Recently her editing work has a focus on Russian and Ukrainian literature and topics.


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