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Siberian Exile: Blood, War and a Granddaughter's Reckoning

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Okanagan Regional Library - Kelowna Branch

1380 Ellis Street

Kelowna, BC V1Y 2A2

Canada

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Award-winning author and assistant professor at the University of Missouri, Julija Šukys, will read from her 2017 book, Siberian Exile, which weaves together two narratives: the story of Ona, noble exile and innocent victim, and that of Anthony, accused war criminal. The book examines the stories that communities tell themselves, and considers what happens when the stories we’ve been told all our lives suddenly and irrevocably change, and how forgiveness or grace operate across generations and across the barriers of life and death.

When Šukys was a child, her paternal grandfather, Anthony, rarely smiled, and her grandmother, Ona, spoke only in her native Lithuanian. But they still taught Šukys her family’s story: that of a proud people forced from their homeland when the soldiers came. In mid-June 1941, three Red Army soldiers arrested Ona, forced her onto a cattle car, and sent her east to Siberia, where she spent 17 years separated from her children and husband, working on a collective farm. The family story maintained that it was all a mistake. Anthony, whose name was on Stalin’s list of enemies of the people, was accused of being a known and decorated anti-Bolshevik and Lithuanian nationalist.

Some 70 years after these events, Šukys sat down to write about her grandparents and their survival of a 25-year forced separation and subsequent reunion. Piecing the story together from letters, oral histories, audio recordings and KGB documents, her research soon revealed a Holocaust-era secret—a family connection to the killing of 700 Jews in a small Lithuanian border town. According to KGB documents, the man in charge when those massacres took place was Anthony, Ona’s husband.

About the author: Julija Šukys (PhD, U Toronto) is the author of three books, most recently Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning and Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė. Epistolophilia won the 2013 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Literature. Her essays have appeared in the Tusculum Review, Queen’s Quarterly, Passages North, and elsewhere.

Details:
Date: Thursday, February 8
Time: 6:45 pm
Location: Okanagan Regional Library, Ellis Street Branch, 1380 Ellis Street, Kelowna
Cost: FREE, but registration required
Refreshments will be served

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Okanagan Regional Library - Kelowna Branch

1380 Ellis Street

Kelowna, BC V1Y 2A2

Canada

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