Catapult Publishes ‘Wound,’ New Translation by Elina Alter ’16

Lisa Cochran
September 21, 2023

Wound—an autobiographical novel by Olga Vasyakina translated from the Russian by Writing alumna Elina Alter ’16—was recently published by Catapult.

The book tracks the journey of a lesbian poet named after the writer herself who traverses the Russian landscape from a steppe town in Western Russia to her hometown, an industrial city in Siberia, to bury her mother’s ashes. En route, she confronts her sexuality and artistic identity, as well as her childhood memories, all amid grieving her late mother.

A meditation on death, queerness, and love, the novel probes the reality of being LGBTQ+ in Russia while also engaging with the accounts of many feminist artists and theorists such as Louise Bourgeois, Susan Sontag, and Monique Wittig. 

Writing alumna and adjunct assistant professor Jessi Jezewska Stevens ’18 writes, “Deeply moving, Wound flows from a faith in the emancipatory power of literature that has become all too rare. One of the most refreshing young voices I've encountered in contemporary literature.”

“The narration pivots through time in Elina Alter’s resonant translation,” said award-winning writer and translator, Alina Stefanescu. “‘Poetry is my method of forgetting in such a way that what I forget becomes known to others.’ I remain awed by the expansive emotional geography of this book, which reads like a novel yet tastes like a poem.” 

The english translation of Wound is available for purchase here

Elina Alter is the editor of Circumference, a magazine centered around international culture and translation. Her work appears in BOMB, The New England Review, The Paris Review, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.