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Sophia Shalmiyev "Mother Winter" w/ Lydia Kiesling Reading & Signing

Come celebrate Sophia Shalmiyev’s brand new debut memoir, Mother Winter, with Lydia Kiesling, author of the also-quite-new and debut novel, The Golden State. The two will be reading from these incredible, critically-acclaimed books, with a signing to follow!

Sophia Shalmiyev emigrated from Leningrad to NYC in 1990. An MFA graduate of Portland State University, she was the nonfiction editor for The Portland Review and is a recipient of the Laurels scholarship and numerous Kellogg’s fellowship awards. She has a second master’s degree in creative arts therapy from The School of Visual Arts, where she worked with survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Her work has appeared in Vela Magazine, Bellows American Review, Electric Lit, The Seattle Review of Books, Ravishly and The Literary Review, among others; all with a feminist lens. She lives in Portland. Visit her website for more.

Lydia Kiesling is the author of The Golden State and a 2018 National Book Foundation “5 under 35” honoree. She is a contributing editor at The Millions and her writing has appeared at outlets including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker online, The Guardian, and Slate. She lives in San Francisco with her family.


MOTHER WINTER is the story of Sophia’s emotional journeys as an immigrant, an artist, and a woman raised without her mother. Born to a Russian mother and an Azerbaijani father, Shalmiyev grew up under the stark oppressiveness of 1980s Leningrad. An imbalance of power and widespread anti-Semitism in her homeland led her father to steal Shalmiyev away, emigrating to America and abandoning her estranged and alcoholic mother, Elena. At age eleven, Shalmiyev found herself on a plane headed west, motherless and terrified of the new world unfolding before her.

MOTHER WINTER depicts in urgent vignettes Sophia’s years of travel, searching, and forging meaningful connection with the worlds she occupies. The result is a searing meditation on motherhood, displacement, gender politics, and the pursuit of wholeness after shattering loss. And ultimately, it is an aching observation of the human heart across time and culture.

Early praise for MOTHER WINTER:

"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."—KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review) 

"MOTHER WINTER, Sophia Shalmiyev’s catastrophically bright, wavering motion of a memoir, forged through sticky clouds of pain, is vividly awesome and truly great."—EILEEN MYLES, author of Evolution

MOTHER WINTER is the wrenching story of her exile and grief, but it’s also a chronicle of awakening—to art, sex, feminism, and the rich complexities of becoming a mother herself. Like a punk rock Marguerite Duras, Shalmiyev has reinvented the language of longing. I love this gorgeous, gutting, unforgettable book."—LENI ZUMAS, author of Red Clocks

“Shalmiyev stubbornly, brilliantly pursues loss in this psycho-geography of immigration, grief displacement, and damage… Like the great modernist writers, Shalmiyev writes from, not about, trauma but at a pitch that’s witty, dry, sad, and laconic.” —CHRIS KRAUS, author of I Love Dick

“With sparse, poetic language Shalmiyev builds a personal history that is fractured and raw; a brilliant, lovely ache.”—MICHELLE TEA, author of Against Memoir

MOTHER WINTER slices through the conventions of narrative with the most delicate blade, ribboning what you think you know about memoir, homecoming, what it means to live in a female body, to live as a motherless mother, to be mothered by art and the arms of all that is strong enough to hold you. This book hypnotized me with its beauty and brutality. I feasted on Shalmiyev's sentences and they will stay with me for a long, long time.”—MELISSA FEBOS, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me