Exile and Return

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MFA in Creative Nonfiction
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Most think of World War II in black and white terms. For millions of people throughout Eastern Europe, however, the experience was much more complicated. Following the death of my grandmother, I set out to trace my Ukrainian family’s path through the wretched middle part of the 20th century. I use archival research and interviews with my family in Ukraine to bring to life the tensions of the impoverished prewar countryside; wartime fates as divergent as incarceration in Auschwitz and possible service in the Nazi military; my family’s embrace of Ukrainian nationalism and their subsequent banishment to a Siberian gulag settlement; and the wrenching but successful emigration of part of the family to the United States in the late 1960s. Through my quest, I learn that easy assumptions about what good and evil look don’t hold—even within my own family.