Books transport us to other worlds, different times, introduce us to new characters, and with historical fiction, we learn bits of history we might not have known. It helps us remember, never forgetting the people who fought for us, gave us freedom, allowed us to have a voice.
My favourite genre is Historical Fiction, especially set during WWII. One of the last novels I devoured was Lana Kortchik's Sisters Of War.
Kiev, 1941: Watching the Red Army withdraw from Ukraine in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance, sisters Natasha and Lisa Smirnova realise their lives are about to change forever.
As the German army occupies their beloved city, the sisters are tested in ways they never thought possible. Lisa’s fiancé Alexei is taken by the invading army, whilst Natasha falls in love with Mark – a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.
But as Natasha and Lisa fight to protect the friends and family they hold dear, they must face up to the dark horrors of war and the pain of betrayal. Will they be strong enough to overcome the forces which threaten to tear their family apart?
This was an emotional story to get through, but with the news of Russia invading Ukraine, my heart is breaking all over again.
But what I read and witness on TV these last couple weeks are not part of a historical fiction novel.
Underground subway stations are being used as bomb shelters. People are fleeing their homes with only what they can carry. Families are being torn apart. Men are signing up to fight, knowing their sacrifice can mean more than time apart from loved ones.
Veterans of the Great War celebrated that it was the war to end all wars, only to have their sons enlist for the second world war.
The fears our grandparents experienced, the unknowing of what the world would come to if the Nazis won, the struggles on the battlefield and home front, changing lives forever.
I am unable to pick up a novel set during war at the moment, things I hear on the news should only be kept to the stories I read or in our history text books.
I came across this letter, signed by over a thousand of Worldwide Nobel Laureates, artists, and writers, condemning Russia's invasion and bloodshed. It is a touching letter, their words strong and full of love.
"All individuals have a right to peace, free expression, and free assembly."
The Ukrainians are strong and determined to keep their history, culture, and language. For decades now, they have fought for their freedom, including freedom of their arts.
The Soviet Union took their voices away, banned their work, and faced with repression. During the 1920s and 1930s, a generation of the Ukrainian intelligentsia were later known as the "Executed Renaissance". These artists were executed by firing squad, sent to concentration camps, or exiled from the only country they knew and loved.
Between 1934 and 1940, a campaign was launched to remove and exterminate them. An estimation of 30,000 Ukrainian intellectuals were repressed under Stalin, The Great Purge of 1938 having imprisoned or executed 223 writers. Out of the 259 published Ukrainian authors from the early 1930s, only 36 remained in 1938.
But their attempts to silence and erase their history, culture, and language failed, the Ukrainians a strong and proud country, refusing to back down. As they continue to be today.
You can read more of the history of the Executed Renaissance, here.
If you are looking for a way to support Ukraine as a bookworm, consider purchasing books by some of their talented authors, a small way to let them know that their work is important to the rest of the world and we want more. That no matter how hard Russia tries, the arts will never be erased from Ukraine.
Here are a few popular books by Ukrainian authors that have been translated into English for your reading pleasure.
Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex
Life Went On Anyway
A Biography Of A Chance Miracle
Our Others: Stories of Ukrainian Diversity
Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love
Stars And Poppy Seeds
Sound: Shhh . . . Bang . . . POP . . . BOOM!