Selected Works

A lyrical literary memoir that explores the exhilarating, sometimes surreal, discomforting, and ultimately healing process of Polish-Jewish reconciliation taking place in Poland today.
In 1945, an American G.I. mails home a Japanese flag. Fifty years later, his daughter unfolds the past.
Five essays on performance
“…a dazzling and deeply impressive study of the performing arts.”
-Jonathan Kirsch, The Los Angeles Times

Interviews, Essays, Podcasts, Video

photo: Rick Loomis, LA Times

Louise Steinman is a writer and literary curator. Her work frequently deals with memory, history and reconciliation. Her book, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father's War was cited as “A graceful, understated memoir… that draws its strength from the complexities it explores.” (New York Times Book Review) and “…an intimate and powerful story of the effects of war.” (James Bradley, author, Flags of Our Fathers). The book won the 2002 Gold Medal in Autobiography/​Memoir from ForeWord Magazine and has been the selection of several all-city and all-freshman reading programs. The book chronicles her quest to return a war “souvenir” to its owner and-- in the process-- illuminates how war changed one generation and shaped another.

Her first book, The Knowing Body: The Artist As Storyteller in Contemporary Performance (North Atlantic Books)—was hailed by the L.A. Times as a “dazzling study of the performing arts.” The Knowing Body is based on two decades of Louise’s experience as a performer/​director with So&So&So&So interdisciplinary theater troupe, and as a dance/​theater critic for publications ranging from Willamette Week to High Performance, Oakland Tribune and others.

Her most recent book, The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation was published in hardcover and paperback, by Beacon Press. She has given talks and lead dialogue groups about the book around the United States, in Poland and the UK.

Her essays and feature articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of BooksLos Angeles Times Magazine, New York Times Syndicate, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine,, Washington Post and other publications. Her features have included profiles of Zen rabbis, Syrian refugees, artists, memoirists, combat veterans, translators, filmmakers, elevator operators and an innovator in deaf education. “Ordinary bodhisattvas,” she calls them.

She has curated the award-winning ALOUD at Central Library series for the Los Angeles Public Library. ( for the past twenty-four years. She frequently interviews visiting authors. Among interviewees are Helen Macdonald, memoirist Hisham Matar, poet Jane Hirshfield, Terry Tempest Williams, Aleksandar Hemon, Salman Rushdie, Father Patrick Desbois, Diane Ackerman, Maira Kalman, Roz Chast, Susan Griffin, Eva Hoffman, Adam Zagajewski, Maxine Hong Kingston, Michael Ondaatje, and others. (you can find podcasts on itunes, type in Los Angeles Public Library.) Louise is also co-director of the Los Angeles Institute of the Humanities at USC. She was Senior Creative Advisor for the Sundance Institute Arts Writing Program and is a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Ms. Steinman was a 2013 and 2015 resident artist at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida, where she wrote "On an Island: Doing Rauschenberg Time." She has received grants from the Adam Mickiewicz Institure for a residency in Warsaw, Poland and a 2017 travel grant from the Danish Arts Foundation.

She lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles on a north-facing slope within view of Silver Lake Reservoir, with her husband, sculptor Lloyd Hamrol.

"Louise Steinman's story is heroic in all the old senses of the word: a journey of a literal sort; a journey into the terrible past; and a journey into her own soul. Unblinking, scrupulous and enduring." --Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
"To say I was very moved by this account of the author’s visits to Poland and the way she and her friend Cheryl confronted the vexing issues of Polish Catholic – Jewish relations, would be an understatement. Reading this memoir, written from the heart, as it is, I often had to slow down or stop to regain my composure and not be flooded. There were many parts of the book that elicited strong reactions, but the most powerful was the question posed by the two of them, “do they miss us?” It brought tears to my eyes. This book is not an attempt at downplaying Polish anti-Semitism, as some seem to be saying in the reviews, nor is it an attack on Poles, as others write. It’s one person’s honest attempt at trying to understand what is happening in today’s Poland and how Poles remember the Jews who lived among them. I also appreciated the way Ms. Steinman presented the lesser-known heroes of her narrative, like Maciej or Tomek, who simply do the right thing for the right reasons. There are, of course, others like them. But the picture is not all rosy and Ms. Steinman & Cheryl don’t pretend it is. Polish society today continues to be infected with serious bouts of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia. The Polish Catholic Church continues to be a stumbling block to acknowledging a fuller picture of the hostility and violence Polish Catholics directed at their Jewish neighbors. Having grown up in Polish Catholic neighborhoods of the City of Detroit and having extended family in Poland who I visit several times annually, I am aware of how much more has to happen on the Polish Catholic side to overcome the prejudice and stereotyping. But it’s individuals like Ms. Steinman and books like this one that create a space to discuss the contributions that Jews have made to Polish culture and to embrace the values that shape Jewish identity and consciousness and give strength and sustenance to those who are still mourning the disappearance of Polish Jewry from Poland and who miss “you” dearly. If you are looking for an entre to the very complicated and often tragic relationship between Polish Catholics and Jews, this is a place to start." posted on by Marian J. Krzyzowski (Ann Arbor, MI USA)

"Partly a detective story, partly a meditation on the legacy of war...this is a bold, unusual and moving book." - Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars

"In the territory Steinman explores—risk, play, improvisation, the dual image of the performer and persona—her fine prose builds firmly, gracefully and movingly to what she considers the basic, too often unacknowledged function of the performer as storyteller: 'to remind us of our mortality.'" —Deborah Jowitt


Nov 7, 2013 ALOUD conversation with Jack Miles, Los Angeles Public Library