Maria Tumarkin

Maria Tumarkin's inventive writing on our current historical moment shows a relentless empathy and curiosity about the complexities of our world and its uncertainties.

A native of Kharkov, Ukraine, Maria Tumarkin is the author of four works of nonfiction: Axiomatic (2018), Otherland: A Journey with My Daughter (2016), Courage (2007), and Traumascapes: The Power and Fate of Places Transformed by Tragedy (2005). Tumarkin’s primary subject is the interrelatedness of past and present. For her, the continual presence of the past is generative as well as traumatic, each incursion a source of aesthetic, emotional, and ethical energy, an opportunity to imagine new ways of understanding collective and personal histories. In Axiomatic, for instance, Tumarkin uses a complex play of meditation, storytelling, and reportage to represent the lives of ordinary people with extraordinarily painful pasts. Her protagonists are asylum seekers, grieving parents, and holocaust survivors, and Tumarkin shows us how their pain both shapes them and is shaped by them; how, in a profound sense, their pain is them, just as it is now us, who have heard their stories. “As to us, me and you,” Tumarkin writes, “we are the broken vessel containing, spilling all over the place, those who came before us.” Tumarkin lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she teaches creative writing.

My disbelief is not diminishing. Maybe because this feels like a gift of cosmic proportions. I wasn’t born into English, I am that ridiculous person who spent a near-decade writing a small book, I couldn’t even call myself a 'writer' till recently without cringing. Just a couple of years ago I thought—time to stop writing. I won’t stop writing now. I’ll do the opposite. My biggest thanks. MARIA TUMARKIN