The Russlander

The Russlander

by Sandra Birdsell, Janice Kulyk Keefer
     
 

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Katherine (Katya) Vogt is now an old woman living in Winnipeg, but the story of how she and her family came to Canada begins in Russia in 1910, on a wealthy Mennonite estate. Here they lived in a world bounded by the prosperity of their landlords and by the poverty and disgruntlement of the Russian workers who toil on the estate. But in the wake of the First World War… See more details below

Overview

Katherine (Katya) Vogt is now an old woman living in Winnipeg, but the story of how she and her family came to Canada begins in Russia in 1910, on a wealthy Mennonite estate. Here they lived in a world bounded by the prosperity of their landlords and by the poverty and disgruntlement of the Russian workers who toil on the estate. But in the wake of the First World War, the tensions engulfing the country begin to intrude on the community, leading to an unspeakable act of violence. In the aftermath of that violence, and in the difficult years that follow, Katya tries to come to terms with the terrible events that befell her and her family. In lucid, spellbinding prose, Birdsell vividly evokes time and place, and the unease that existed in a county on the brink of revolutionary change. The Russländer is a powerful and moving story of ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times.

Author Biography: Sandra Birdsell was born in Manitoba and, until recently, has spent most of her life in Winnipeg. Her first novel, The Missing Child (1989), won the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Her second novel, The Chrome Suite (1992), and her most recent collection of short fiction, The Two-Headed Calf (1997), were both shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Her two previous short story collections, Night Travellers and Ladies of the House, were reissued in 1987 as Agassiz Stories. Her most recent novel, The Russländer (2001), won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction, the Saskatchewan Book Award for Book of the Year, and the Regina Book Award, and was a finalist for the GillerPrize.

Sandra Birdsell’s fiction has been anthologized and has appeared in literary journals and Saturday Night magazine.

She lives in Regina.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It is a compassionate, well-developed family story of love, loyalty, faith, hate, loss and betrayal.…It is a story that could be told by any family displaced by war and revolution.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“With her formidable gifts for psychological observation and her uncanny details of daily life a century ago, Birdsell weaves a place as important as any in our literature. By showing how power is often foisted upon us from an outside world, The Russländer illuminates, with an artistic glow of the first rank, the intimate certainty that evil will not dominate kindness, truth, or love.”
–Jury Citation for the Giller Prize

“Entrancing.…Birdsell has outdone herself.…There is a temptation to quote The Russländer in full. It’s that good a novel.”
National Post

“Realistic, dramatic, dense.…The Russländer is profound.”
Quill & Quire (starred review)

“Masterful.…She weaves historical fact and domestic detail into a meticulous portrait of a tightly knit community driven to the brink of existence.…It’s impossible not to see Katya and her family in the faces of the fleeing refugees as world events once again sweep innocent people into a maelstrom.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Compelling.…We think not so much of the story as the process of memory and reflection, the ability of language to convey a remembered reality.”
Toronto Star

“Birdsell has reached deep for her story, and that of countless immigrants to a new land, and come up with treasure as precious as that silver, two-handled cup that serves as a totem throughout this novel about remembrance and redemption.”
Hamilton Spectator

“Superb.”
Edmonton Journal

“An important book.…It shows how easily we can destroy our world, but also that we have the ability to rebuild it.”
Globe and Mail

“I think it’s both beautiful and brave, and very, very moving.”
–Ann Jansen, CBC Radio

“[Birdsell] documents in chilling, unsentimental prose man’s unspeakable capacity for cruelty towards his fellow man.…As relevant as today’s headlines.”
Maclean’s

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780771014505
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
09/18/2001
Pages:
360

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