Among the Living and the Dead: A Tale of Exile And Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe

Inara Verzemnieks. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-3932-4511-0
Upon a visit to her ancestral Latvia, Verzemnieks, who teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa, vividly imagines the dramatic youth of her grandmother Livija, a farm girl. Verzemnieks follows the desperate flight of Livija and her two small children to a refugee camp in 1944, with her husband at war on the Russian front. Upon settling later into the Latvian community of Tacoma, Wash., Verzemnieks’s grandparents reunite, have children and grandchildren, and raise the author following her parents’ divorce; their presence alone helps keep their memories of their beloved homeland alive for the curious girl. “Words can become as real as anything we see with our eyes or feel with these hands,” Verzemnieks writes. She describes how refugees ousted from their lands form the collective bond of community in their adopted countries. By combining the memories of Livija and her sister, Ausma, with her own powerful impressions of Latvia, Verzemnieks has created a stirring family saga of exiles rich with compassion, loss, perseverance, myth, superstition, and courage. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 07/01/2017
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-393-24512-7
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