Mother Tongues and Mother Dolls

By LARB Radio HourApril 19, 2024

Mother Tongues and Mother Dolls
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A double-header episode about two new novels that each feature high stakes feats of translation. First, the translator and writer Jenny Croft speaks with Medaya Ocher about her debut novel, The Extinction of Irena Rey. It follows eight translators who have just arrived at the house of a famous, beloved writer, the titular Irena Rey. Suddenly, Irena disappears, and the translators are left to figure out what has happened to her. Stuck and isolated in a primeval Polish forest and driven by ambition, paranoia, and obsession, the group uncovers secrets about Irena and the stakes of their endeavor become higher and higher. Then, writer and translator Katya Apekina joins Kate Wolf to discuss her latest novel, Mother Doll. The book examines how we can be haunted, sometimes literally, by the choices and experiences of our ancestors. Its main character is an adrift young woman named Zhenia. In the midst of finding out she’s pregnant and splitting up with her husband, Zhenia receives a mysterious call from Paul, a pet psychic who has been communicating with her great-grandmother, Irina. Paul needs Zhenia to translate Irina’s story, from Russian, about her role in the Russian Revolution and why she decided to place Zhenia’s beloved grandmother in an orphanage; Irina meanwhile needs Zhenia to understand her choices, and just perhaps, forgive her.

LARB Contributor

The LARB Radio Hour is hosted by Eric Newman, Medaya Ocher, and Kate Wolf.


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