The Lost Year – a Holodomor family secret uncovered

#UWC news
January 30,2023 796
The Lost Year – a Holodomor family secret uncovered

The Lost Year, perhaps one of the first books about the Holodomor written in English for middle school children (ages 10-14 years old), was presented to a full house by the author Katherine (Katya) Marsh on January 25, 2023, at Anderson’s Bookshop in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove. The book was inspired by the author’s own family history, and it is a story about family, survival and sacrifice during the Holodomor-genocide – a man-made famine that killed millions of innocent men, women and children inflicted on Ukraine and covered up by the Soviet totalitarian government and still denied by the Russian Federation today.

Katya’s grandmother emigrated to the United States in 1928, leaving behind two sisters and a brother in the Khmelnitsky region of Ukraine. The family in the United States learned about the atrocities inflicted on Ukrainians during the Holodomor-genocide through letters written by family members in Ukraine and from neighbors receiving similar information. However, it was in 1933 that Katya’s mother’s cousin was able to bring his daughter to the United States, and then the full story became known.

Katya expressed that after learning of the story of her own family’s experiences during the Holodomor, she felt it was important to share the story as she realized “how few Americans knew this history.” She wrote The Lost Year “to change that.” She also noted that she “wanted to tell this story because the Holodomor is a powerful case study in disinformation and how it shapes our understanding of history.”

The education of American youth in accurate history is so important to Katya that earlier in the day of the book signing in Downers Grove, she taught the history of the Holodomor to six hundred middle school children in the area. She has done this also on the East Coast for 1,400 students prior to similar events there.

A significant amount of research was done by Katya in writing this book. She noted the disinformation written by New York Times “journalist” Walter Duranty, who reported that he visited Moscow and reported the Soviet lie that there was no famine. She also noted several other journalists, most notably Gareth Jones, who actually visited Ukraine and wrote about the famine he personally witnessed in great detail.

Katya noted that she is a journalist and author who loves to write mystery novels. The Lost Year is a historical fiction novel written as a mystery that leads a young Matthew to unlock the truth about a secret his grandmother had kept from the family. When he finds an old black and white photograph in his grandmother’s belongings, it piques his curiosity. His grandmother’s unwillingness to even talk about the photograph starts Matthew on his mission of discovery.

Olya Soroka, Chair Holodomor Descendants Network; Pavlo Bandriwsky, Vice President UCCA-Illinois Division; Katherine Marsh, Author; Nicholas Kotcherha, President, Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation – USA; Dr. Maria Korkatch-Groshko, Vice President for Government and Community Affairs; Marie Slobidsky, Executive Secretary, Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation – USA

The book draws you into the lives of Katya’s family during the Holodomor and descendants of Holodomor survivors can see in the book some of the same things your own family has said about their experience. Millions of Holodomor descendants around the world can easily relate to what they read in The Lost Year.

Katya wrote this book in 2021 before the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. The book is even more compelling now due to the similarities of the genocide Russia inflicted on Ukraine during the Holodomor and the genocide it is committing today. She also spoke of some of the behaviors that might seem odd to the casual observer but are now known to be part of the traumatic trans-generational follow-on effects of Holodomor-genocide survivors.

The “Lost Year” is beautifully illustrated by Maria Skliarova, a young Ukrainian artist from Kharkiv and the book cover was designed to depict Pecherska Lavra in Kyiv to Brooklyn (where her grandmother originally settled in the United States).

Audience at Anderson’s Bookshop in Downer Grove, IL during author presentation of The Lost Year

Anderson’s Bookshop is a family owned and run business with roots dating back to 1875 in Naperville. Anderson’s work with thousands of schools to get the right books into the hands of young readers and they are planning to do so with The Lost Year so that children understand what the Holodomor was.

The Lost Year is supported by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America – Illinois Division, the Holodomor Descendants Network and the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation – USA, whose representatives were personally on hand for the Book Launch event.

Katherine Marsh responding to audience questions

About the Author: Katherine Marsh is the Edgar Award-winning author of The Night Tourist; The Twilight Prisoner; Jepp, Who Defied the Stars; and The Doors by the Staircase. Katherine grew up in New York and now lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.

“The Lost Year” is available at Anderson’s Bookshop (and online ) in Downers Grove and Naperville, IL and Amazon.

Olya Soroka, Chair, Holodomor Descendants Network