Lithuania SIG #Lithuania Journey into Litvakland #lithuania


Olga Zabludoff
 

I have just finished reading a book which should be read by all
Litvaks who wish to experience life in a Lithuanian shtetl during the
19th-20th centuries.

Shtetl Love Song, an autobiographical novel by Grigory Kanovich, is a
masterpiece produced by a writer whose genius shines through every
page. For all Litvaks this book is a journey into their ancestral
homeland. The story ends as World War 2 breaks out on June 22, 1941,
providing a glimpse into the terrifying days as the Germans invade
Lithuania. Chilling images of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) with
their white armbands are prelude to the collaboration of local
Lithuanians with the German Nazis in the almost total annihilation of
the Jewish population. In contrast, the reader is shown in earlier
pages of the book the close bonds that often exist between the Jews
and the Lithuanian gentiles in the shtetl of Jonava, in which the
story is set.

Kanovich is a brilliant storyteller, a creator of characters whose
impressions live on in one's memory, and a philosopher whose
observations, via the dialogue of his characters, are like rare jewels
in simple language. The prose is seasoned with satirical humor,
expressed at times through the reversal of roles, wherein the
itinerant beggar of the shtetl may utter words that are wiser than
those of the rabbi.

Kanovich, who now lives in Israel, is one of Lithuania's most
prominent writers -- the recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize
for Culture and Arts in 2014. Shtetl Love Song, published originally
in Russian, is available on Amazon. (I have no commercial interest in
the book; just want to share my pleasure.)

Olga Zabludoff

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