Finnish author Rosa Liksom reads from and discusses her recently translated novel Compartment No. 6 (Graywolf Press, August 2016), a wickedly mischievous, darkly imaginative, and completely unforgettable ride, with author Stacey D’Erasmo.

In the waning years of the Soviet Union, a sad young Finnish woman boards a train in Moscow bound for Mongolia, she’s trying to put as much space as possible between her and a broken relationship. Wanting to be alone, she chooses an empty compartment—No. 6.—but her solitude is soon shattered by the arrival of a fellow passenger: Vadim Nikolayevich Ivanov, a grizzled, opinionated, foul-mouthed former soldier. Vadim fills the compartment with his long and colorful stories, recounting in lurid detail his sexual conquests and violent fights.


There is a hint of menace in the air, but initially the woman is not so much scared of or shocked by him as she is repulsed. She stands up to him, throwing a boot at his head. But though Vadim may be crude, he isn’t cruel, and he shares with her the sausage and black bread and tea he’s brought for the journey, coaxing the girl out of her silent gloom. As their train cuts slowly across thousands of miles of a wintry Russia, where “everything is in motion, snow, water, air, trees, clouds, wind, cities, villages, people and thoughts,” a grudging kind of companionship grows between the two inhabitants of Compartment No. 6. When they finally arrive in Ulaanbaatar, a series of starlit and sinister encounters bring this incantatory story about a ruined but beautiful country to its powerful conclusion.


About Rosa Liksom

Rosa Liksom was born in a village of eight houses in Lapland, Finland, where her parents were reindeer breeders and farmers. She spent her youth traveling Europe, living as a squatter and in communes.

Liksom won the Finlandia Prize in 2011 for Compartment No. 6, which has been translated into thirteen languages. She paints, makes films, and writes in Helsinki.

About Stacey D’Erasmo

Stacey D’Erasmo received a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.A. from New York University in English and American Literature. From 1988 to 1995, she was a senior editor at the Voice Literary Supplement. She was a Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University from 1995-1997. She created and developed the fiction review section of Bookforum from 1997-1998. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction in 2009. She was the 2010-11 Sovern/Columbia Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. She is currently an Associate Professor of Writing at Fordham University in NYC.

D’Erasmo’s articles and podcasts have been published in The New York Times Book Review, New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, Interview, The New Yorker, and the Los Angeles Times. She is frequently a faculty member at the Breadloaf Writers Conference.

She is the author of four novels and one book of nonfiction. Her first novel, Tea (Algonquin, 2000), was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Her second novel, A Seahorse Year (Houghton Mifflin, 2004), was named a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Newsday and won both a Lambda Literary Award and a Ferro-Grumley Award. Her third novel, The Sky Below, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) was a favorite book of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun Times, and the New York Times. Her fourth novel, Wonderland, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) was named one of the ten best books of the year by Time and the BBC, also among NPR’s best books of 2014. Her nonfiction book The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between was published by Graywolf Press in 2013.



Images by Pekka Mustonen and Graywolf Press

MON—3-13-2017—7 PM, free